Fighting a Global Killer
Far from being eradicated by modern medicine, malaria remains the most important parasitic disease in the world, infecting three hundred million people each year and killing an estimated two million. A significant number of those infected each year are among the fifty million travellers from developed countries who visit malaria-endemic regions. In addition to the human toll of suffering and death, malaria results in a huge economic burden, depriving developing countries of an estimated $100 billion of growth during the last twenty years. Large increases in international travel and migration have made malaria a truly global problem. For example, in the last five years, Canada has reported a record number of cases and rates of infection that are between five and ten times those reported in the United States. Cases of drug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum malaria have increased dramatically, increasing the number of deaths and severe cases of the disease, and threatening the global blood supply.
Dr. Kevin Kain has established a worldwide reputation as a leading researcher in the movement to develop effective therapeutic interventions and to characterize drug-resistant strains of the disease. As Canada Research Chair in Molecular Parasitology, Dr. Kain will focus his activities on three areas: characterizing host/parasite interactions; developing novel diagnostics and therapeutics; and introducing molecular surveillance systems, quality of practice analysis and evidence-based recommendations.
Dr. Kain's position as Director of the Centre for Travel and Tropical Medicine provides firsthand experience with the clinical problems faced in fighting the spread of malaria, as well as access to the relevant study populations. He believes that his proposed research will serve as an important foundation for multidisciplinary translational and molecular epidemiologic research training for graduate students, research fellows and the next generation of clinician-scientists.