Gorgas Memorial/Leon Jacobs Lecture
"Roll Back Malaria: Is It Doable?" is the subject of the upcoming Gorgas Memorial/Leon Jacobs lecture on Monday, May 8 at 4 p.m. in Wilson Hall, Bldg. 1. The speaker, Dr. Kamini Mendis, senior advisor to the World Health Organization's Roll Back Malaria Project, has made major contributions to malaria research. She oversees WHO's role in this project in Asia and the Americas, and also heads the research and development components of the program.
She began her career in medical research in Sri Lanka as a malariologist working on the immunologic aspects of malaria, including vaccine development. Within a few years, Mendis had expanded her focus to look at the broader impact of malaria in Sri Lanka, where she recognized the country's need for expertise in malaria epidemiology, clinical research and pathogenesis. Supported by the University of Columbo in Sri Lanka, she began programs in these fields, including projects to reduce transmission of malaria and studies to evaluate the effectiveness of these disease-control measures. This work was made possible through collaborations she established with the Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka.
Her efforts led to the establishment of a Malaria Research Unit within the university's faculty of medicine.
During her 17 years as head of the Malaria Research Unit, she collaborated with medical researchers within Sri Lanka and overseas to run a Ph.D. program that trained more than 20 young physicians and scientists. The result was an established group of young malariologists now working in Sri Lanka. The unit has made significant original contributions to our knowledge of malaria and functions as an important source of expertise on the disease.
Mendis obtained her bachelor of medicine degree from the University of Ceylon in 1972; earned her Ph.D. at the University of London in 1980; and her M.D. in microbiology from the University of Columbo, in 1989. She has received several prestigious national and international awards for her contributions to tropical medicine including the National Presidential Award for outstanding citizens (Sri Lanka, 1983), the Chalmers Medal of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine (U.K., 1991), and the Bailey K. Ashford Medal of the American Society of Tropical Medicine (1993). For many years she has served on international scientific review boards and committees on malaria and on international health.
Her campaign to expand malaria control measures and health care systems for malaria patients led to her current position with Roll Back Malaria. She will work closely with NIAID's International Centers for Tropical Disease Research program and scientists around the world on the development efforts. The talk is sponsored by NIAID's Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases.
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