|NIAID principal deputy director Dr. Hugh Auchincloss (l) poses with village elders at a malaria vaccine trial site in Bancoumana, Mali.
Recently, an NIAID delegation led by principal deputy director Dr. Hugh Auchincloss participated in a series of high-profile events in Bamako, Mali, to reinforce successful NIAID collaborative research projects there. The focal point of the trip was the signing of a renewed partnership agreement between the U.S. and Malian governments, which strengthened the commitment of the two countries to continue scientific collaborations for the next 5 years.
NIAID scientists have been active in Mali since the late 1980s, when the institute partnered with Malian scientists on malaria vector research. Since then, the partnership has grown. In 1989, the Malaria Research and Training Center (MRTC) was established in Mali by an agreement between NIAID and the National School of Medicine and Pharmacy of Mali. The MRTC now serves as the primary research and training arm of Maliís malaria control program. In 2002, the length and extent of the collaboration between NIAID intramural scientists and Malian scientists were recognized by establishment of an NIAID International Center for Excellence in Research (ICER).
During the recent trip to Mali, the countryís president highlighted the ICER as a model of collaboration between the United States and Africa and it is easy to see why. Since its inception, the ICER has continued the strong scientific collaboration between NIAID and Mali, including numerous malaria vaccine trials; the creation of advanced laboratories such as a biosafety-level 3 lab to study tuberculosis; and training opportunities for scientists from around the world. Most importantly, there is now in Mali a critical mass of investigators, both Malian and international, who work together on important research issues. The center is and will remain a regional center of excellence with significant research outcomes that result in improved public health policies and programs around the world.