On April 25, ASTMH, in partnership with Malaria No More, PATH and other malaria and other R&D organizations, commemorated World Malaria Day on Capitol Hill in an event featuring researchers from 20 universities, private companies and research institutions. Each researcher speaking at the event, "U.S. Advancements in Science and Technology in Malaria: A Showcase of Domestic Research & Development to Save Lives and Keep Americans Safe," highlighted the economic impact of their grant's malaria research dollars. Honorary event hots included the co-chairs of the Senate Working Group on Malaria and Congressional Caucus on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases.
About half of the presenters were ASTMH members, including Mary Galinski, PhD, Emory University, and Brian Grimberg, PhD, Case Western Research University, both of whom were invited by ASTMH to summarize their research and convey the additional benefits brought by these federal research dollars. The audience also heard that the military recognizes malaria as a persistent threat to U.S. forces and that WRAIR is collaborating with many of these academic institutions. All the presentations illustrated real-time leading scientific and technological advancements in malaria that could save millions of lives around the world, protect U.S. military service members and demonstrate job creation in the states, as well as the economic benefits federal funding brings to local and state economies.
Members of Congress in attendance included former Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Republican co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases, who pointed to the work by ASTMH member Jon Vennerstrom, PhD, University of Nebraska, and commented on the resources coming into his state as a result of this research. Fortenberry announced that Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) as the new co-chair of the Caucus, stepping in for the late Congressman Donald Payne (D-NJ), founder and former co-chair of the Caucus. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), co-chairs of the Senate Working Group on Malaria, and Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA), spoke about the importance for malaria funding. Congressman McDermott highlighted the impressive malaria R&D efforts being carried out in his Washington State district by Seattle Biomed, founded by ASTMH Council member Ken Stuart, PhD. Congresman McDermott also referenced the work of ASTMH member Malcolm Gardner, PhD, at Seattle Biomed, citing the economic impact, jobs created and global leadership role of the state as a result of Seattle Biomed's collective work.
USAID Administrator Raj Shah delivered remarks about the impressive scientific achievements and the development of new tools the can be used in the fight against malaria. He described how the President's Malaria Initiative is delivering significant results in the fight against malaria with the help of past achievements in malaria R&D. WRAIR Deputy Commander Pete Weina echoed the point made earlier about the critical role in these technologies that WRAIR and its partners have played. Concluding the session, the CDC's Patrick Kachur, MD, MPH, and the NIH's Lee Hall, PhD, described the roles their respective agencies play in malaria R&D.