The New York Academy of Sciences Partners to Host International Malaria Research Conference

Researchers will come together in CosmoCaixa Barcelona to review updates on Plasmodium vivax—now the most widely distributed, and hardest to control, malaria parasite.

NEW YORK, May 10, 2013—From May 28 – 29, 2013, researchers will gather in CosmoCaixa Barcelona (Spain), for the Advances in Plasmodium vivax Malaria Research conference, presented by the New York Academy of Sciences, the "la Caixa" Foundation, B-DEBATE, and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and its research center, The Barcelona Centre for International Health Research (CRESIB)


Malaria accounts for approximately 250 million clinical cases and nearly 1 million deaths annually, mostly in children, in 109 countries. There has been growing evidence that Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax) is the most widely distributed malaria parasite, accounting for the majority of cases in Latin America and Asia.

"A decade of increased investment in malaria control has resulted in the successful reduction of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in many countries," says keynote speaker Robert D. Newman, MD, MPH, Director, Global Malaria Programme, World Health Organization. However, "in those countries where P. vivax is also transmitted, the balance is being shifted towards this parasite, which is both technically and operationally complex to control and eliminate."

Part of the reason P. vivax is so difficult to control is "its ability to relapse from long-lasting, domant liver-stages, months or even years after the first infection," says scientific conference organizer Ivo Mueller, PhD, Research Professor, CRESIB. "This makes it more difficult to control and eliminate than P. falciparum."

Additionally, "there are still substantial gaps in our knowledge of key aspects of P. vivax biology—such as the hypnozoite or reasons for P. vivax's restriction to invasion of reticulocytes—and there are very few, new tools directly targeting this species," says Mueller.

This 2-day conference will convene a global community of researchers to discuss P. vivax molecular biology and genomics; host-parasite interactions; novel research techniques (e.g., 'omics) to overcome barriers to in vitro, in vivo, and clinical study of P. vivax; drug resistance and drug discovery; and recent clinical trial and in-field efforts in P. vivax prevention, treatment, control, and elimination.

"Plasmodium vivax malaria may be one of the most neglected infectious diseases; it is a severe illness and the cause of much misery and morbidity in the endemic areas. The eradication of vivax malaria is a priority goal of global health and the advances that may get us there will be discussed at this meeting," says conference speaker Alan Magill, MD, Director, Malaria Global Health Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"The Academy is delighted to return to Barcelona to jointly present this forum that will bring together the international community of basic and clinical scientists as well as allied healthcare professionals at the forefront of malaria prevention, treatment, control, and elimination efforts" says Brooke Grindlinger, Executive Director of Scientific Programs at the New York Academy of Sciences.

"Spain is among the top contributors to research and development for neglected diseases, and the country's role in the fight against malaria, including Plasmodium vivax malaria, has proven key in advances made against this disease over the last decade," adds Grindlinger. "Spain, and its institutions in academia, government, and industry, is represented by experts at the forefront of basic research, clinical and field trial efforts, science policy, public health, and disease monitoring in many countries affected by malaria. In uniting the local and international research community, we expect that the novel basic and clinical research findings that will be discussed at this conference will inform and stimulate the international scientific research agenda for malaria eradication."

Additional Information

For more information on the conference, including a detailed conference agenda and instructions for applying to the iVAX Fellowship for Investigators from Malaria Endemic Countries, visit www.nyas.org/vivax.

Immediately following the conference, on May 30, ISGlobal will host a series of free, interdisciplinary satellite workshops, which will review progress on key aspects of the P. vivax research agenda as they pertain to malaria treatment, control, and elimination. Confirmed conference registrants are invited to register to attend the satellite event.

Media must RSVP to Diana Friedman (dfriedman@nyas.org; +1-212-298-8645) to attend the conference or satellite workshops.


About the "la Caixa" Foundation

"la Caixa" Foundation is the largest private foundation in Spain, the second largest in Europe, and the fifth largest worldwide. One in every four Spaniards benefits directly from social outreach projects of "la Caixa" Foundation. The cultural and scientific initiatives of "la Caixa" Foundation, developed both through its own centers and as traveling exhibitions around Spain, are integrated into the Foundation's profound social vocation. The exhibits and activities organized by the Foundation's department of Science, Research and Environment aim at fostering 1) scientific knowledge, 2) scientific method, and 3) scientific opinion; so that citizens are provided with tools to be democratically involved in the decisions affecting their lives. In addition, "la Caixa" Foundation awards research grants and pre-doctoral fellowships in collaboration with world-renowned centers such as IrsiCaixa, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC), Fundació Vall d'Hebron Investigació Oncològica-VHIO, Fundació Pasqual Maragall, Fundació Institut Investigació Biomèdica de Girona, Fundación General del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Associació Catalana d'Universitats Públiques (ACUP, Projecte RecerCaixa), and CRESIB - Institut de Salut Global. Visit la caixa at: www.lacaixa.es/obrasocial.


About B-Debate International Center for Scientific Debate Barcelona

B-Debate International Center for Scientific Debate Barcelona is an initiative of Biocat with support from "la Caixa" Foundation. B•Debate aims to drive top-notch international scientific events to foster debate, collaboration and open exchange of knowledge among experts of renowned national and international prestige in order to tackle complex challenges of high interest in the life sciences. The debates foster the integration of various disciplines of science. B•Debate strives to help position Barcelona as a benchmark in generating knowledge and Catalonia as a country of scientific excellence.

Biocat is the organization that coordinates and promotes biotechnology, biomedicine and innovative medical technology in the Bioregion of Catalonia. Its mission is to stimulate all those that work in this field, as well as their initiatives, to set up an environment with a powerful system of research, active knowledge transfer and business entrepreneurship that can become an economic driving force for the country and contribute to the welfare of society. Further information at:  www.bdebate.org and  www.biocat.cat/en.


About the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)

The Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) is the fruit of an innovative public-private alliance between academic, government, and philanthropic institutions to tackle health problems affecting the world's most vulnerable populations, with the ultimate vision of closing gaps in health disparities between and within different regions of the world. ISGlobal takes a broad approach to global health issues, carrying out activities all along the value chain of knowledge-knowledge generation through research, knowledge management through the Think Tank, knowledge transmission through training and education and knowledge application through cooperation and technical assistance. ISGlobal's Board of Trustees includes representatives from Obra Social "la Caixa" Foundation, the Autonomous Government of Catalonia, the Government of Spain, the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona and the University of Barcelona, with the support of an advisory body made up of internationally recognized institutions in the field of global health.

The Barcelona Centre for International Health Research (CRESIB) is the research centre of ISGlobal. It was established in 2006 by the Autonomous Government of Catalonia, the University of Barcelona (UB), the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona (HCB) and the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS) and its mission is to improve global health through research and training.  Further information at: www.cresib.cat


About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With 25,000 members in 140 countries, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at www.nyas.org.