Malaria researcher wins Howard Taylor Ricketts award

January 03, 2010

Malaria researcher Professor Alan Cowman from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia, has been awarded the 2010 Howard Taylor Ricketts Award by the University of Chicago.

The annual award recognises outstanding accomplishment in the field of medical sciences. It was established in 1913 in memory of Howard Taylor Ricketts, the University of Chicago scientist who demonstrated that Rocky Mountain spotted fever is transferred to man by ticks.

Professor Cowman joins an illustrious list of recipients of the Howard Taylor Ricketts award. Previous recipients include 1993 Nobel Prize winner Phillip Sharp, who co-discovered split genes; Bert Vogelstein; for his work on the tumour suppressors that protect cells from cancerous growth; and Stanley Falkow, who discovered the molecular nature of antibiotic resistance.

Professor Cowman was selected to receive the Howard Taylor Ricketts award by an interdisciplinary faculty committee of the University of Chicago. He learnt of his selection when he unexpectedly received an email from the committee's chair, Professor Bernard Roizman.

"It was a very nice surprise and a great honour to join a list that includes such stellar scientists," Professor Cowman said.

For the past 30 years Professor Cowman has studied Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the most deadly form of human malaria. Each year more than 400 million people contract malaria, and more than one million people, mostly children, die from the disease.

"Malaria presents an enormous health burden but also has a major impact on social and economic development in countries where the disease is endemic," Professor Cowman said. "New therapies are urgently needed."

Professor Cowman's research has led to better understanding of how the malaria parasite evades the human immune system as well as anti-malarial drugs. It has also revealed much about how the malaria parasite invades and remodels the human red blood cell. Collectively, this knowledge is being used to identify vaccine and drug candidates against malaria.

As a recipient of the Howard Taylor Ricketts award Professor Cowman will give a named lecture on his research to staff of the University of Chicago's Division of Biological Sciences and School of Medicine in May 2010. He also receives US$10,000 and a medal.

The lecture will have special significance next year as 2010 marks the 100-year anniversary of Howard Taylor Ricketts' premature death. Dr Ricketts, after demonstrating that Rocky Mountain spotted fever is transferred to man by ticks, described the small bipolar bodies that cause the disease. Later he found - at the cost of his life - the related organism that causes typhus fever.

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

Related Malaria Articles from Brightsurf:

Clocking in with malaria parasites
Discovery of a malaria parasite's internal clock could lead to new treatment strategies.

Breakthrough in malaria research
An international scientific consortium led by the cell biologists Volker Heussler from the University of Bern and Oliver Billker from the UmeƄ University in Sweden has for the first time systematically investigated the genome of the malaria parasite Plasmodium throughout its life cycle in a large-scale experiment.

Scientists close in on malaria vaccine
Scientists have taken another big step forward towards developing a vaccine that's effective against the most severe forms of malaria.

New tool in fight against malaria
Modifying a class of molecules originally developed to treat the skin disease psoriasis could lead to a new malaria drug that is effective against malaria parasites resistant to currently available drugs.

Malaria expert warns of need for malaria drug to treat severe cases in US
The US each year sees more than 1,500 cases of malaria, and currently there is limited access to an intravenously administered (IV) drug needed for the more serious cases.

Monkey malaria breakthrough offers cure for relapsing malaria
A breakthrough in monkey malaria research by two University of Otago scientists could help scientists diagnose and treat a relapsing form of human malaria.

Getting to zero malaria cases in zanzibar
New research led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, Ifakara Health Institute and the Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Program suggests that a better understanding of human behavior at night -- when malaria mosquitoes are biting -- could be key to preventing lingering cases.

Widely used malaria treatment to prevent malaria in pregnant women
A global team of researchers, led by a research team at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), are calling for a review of drug-based strategies used to prevent malaria infections in pregnant women, in areas where there is widespread resistance to existing antimalarial medicines.

Protection against Malaria: A matter of balance
A balanced production of pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines at two years of age protects against clinical malaria in early childhood, according to a study led by ISGlobal, an institution supported by ''la Caixa'' Foundation.

The math of malaria
A new mathematical model for malaria shows how competition between parasite strains within a human host reduces the odds of drug resistance developing in a high-transmission setting.

Read More: Malaria News and Malaria Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to