WIPO Re:Search supports the battle against malaria

Author:Katherine Andrews
Position:Deputy Director, Griffith Institute of Drug Discovery (GRIDD), Griffith University, Queensland, Australia

Malaria is among the world’s top killers. Despite progress in reducing mortality and infection rates, this mosquito-borne disease remains a major global health challenge. In 2016, alone, an estimated 216 million cases of malaria were reported, according to the World Health Organization. While this was a significant decrease (some 18 percent) on 2015 estimates, malaria continues to claim more than ... (see full summary)


Tackling malaria is a complex undertaking that involves the combined efforts of researchers, public health experts, industry, politicians, civil society groups, and many others. Of course, it also requires significant investment, which is often in short supply.

Enter WIPO Re:Search, a consortium led by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and Bio Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) that brings together over 100 partners from government, academia, and industry. WIPO Re:Search leverages resources, know-how, expertise, and infrastructure to catalyze the development of more effective vaccines, drugs, therapies, and diagnostic tools to prevent and treat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), malaria, and tuberculosis. It makes an important contribution to meeting the global malaria challenge by linking industry players with academic research groups, and government funding.

Strengthening the global research landscape

Strengthening the global research landscape by fostering scientific collaborations between researchers working on NTDs, malaria and tuberculosis is a critical part of WIPO Re:Search’s mandate. With its consortium partner, BVGH, WIPO Re:Search facilitates such collaborations through a scientific exchange program which promotes capacity building and joint R&D by arranging sabbaticals for interested scientists from developing countries at research institutions in Australia, Europe, and the USA.

Thanks to funds from the Australian Government under a funds-in-trust (FIT) arrangement, this program has a proven track record of success since its inception in 2013. The program initially placed six researchers from Africa at pharmaceutical companies and leading universities in Europe and the USA for periods of up to one year. An additional injection of funds from Australia in 2016 is now supporting 10 researchers from the Asia-Pacific region to undertake research in five Australian research institutes, including the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery (GRIDD) at Griffith University in Queensland.

That’s how we came to work with Dr. Mohammad Shafiul Alam, a scientist at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research (icddr,b), in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a country where malaria remains a major public health challenge.

GRIDD’s biomedical expertise and commitment to developing effective new drugs to prevent malaria made it a perfect destination for Dr. Alam, whose research interests include malaria drug resistance, point-of-care...

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