Vaccines to eradicate malaria: Impossible, Improbable or Imminent?

Lecture Synopsis

Despite over a century of malaria control measures the disease still kills over 400,000 people each year. In particular malaria retains a vice-like grip on sub-Saharan Africa where 90% of mortality occurs. At an individual level this results in a toll not just in lives, but also in overall health. At a national level the burden of sickness is a drag on economic development. Clearly our current tools are simply not sufficient for the job and a vaccine would be a game-changer for malaria eradication efforts. However, no vaccine currently exists for a chronic parasitic disease such as malaria so achieving this would be an unprecedented feat. In this talk I will discuss existing partially effective approaches to malaria vaccination, before charting a possible path to the safe and effective tools we need.

About the Speaker

Ian Cockburn is an Associate Professor at the Australian National University. He has worked on malaria throughout his research career. His PhD focussed on how individuals living in Papua New Guinea are genetically resistant to malaria. In 2012 he moved to the ANU where he runs a research laboratory devoted to understanding the immune response to the parasite. He collaborates extensively with groups in Kenya and USA in studies of natural malaria infections and vaccines in clinical trials funded by the NHMRC and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The ultimate aim of his work is the development of new therapies and vaccines for malaria.