ACGT members help plot malaria research trajectory at 2010 SAMI Conference

February 2010 Related info National Health Laboratory Service

The ACGT was recently represented at the annual SAMI (South African Malaria Initiative) Conference 2010 in Cape St Francis. The meeting, which was held from 26 – 28 January, was followed by an open SAMI Steering Committee Meeting.

According to ACGT Director, Dr Jane Morris – who also chairs the SAMI Steering Committee, the main purpose of the Conference was to review the progress of SAMI-funded projects. Presentations were made on a wide range of malaria-related research projects and initiatives, including diagnostics development and parasite-vector biology.

ACGT contributors who joined Dr Morris in making presentations at the Conference included Jaco de Ridder, Lyn-Marie Birkholtz and Riana Bornman of the University of Pretoria; Chris Parkinson and Marli Botha of CSIR; and Theresa Coetzer from Wits University. A further number of contributors representing all of the ACGT’s partner institutions were also in attendance as conference participants.

“In addition to feedback from local players, there was a lot of international input at the Conference”, says Dr Morris. Among the international speakers were representatives from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine; the National S&T Development Agency, Thailand; Imperial College London; and the Australian National University.  Input from a representative of the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) was particularly valuable.

Dr Morris adds that one of the lessons that the Conference revealed was that there is a general view that some of SAMI’s activities would need to be revisited and possibly revised for increased alignment with international trends. “There was a lot of interaction and discussion about better engagement internationally. This would assist, for example, in the area of drug discovery – where in the case of South Africa there are certain limitations and where international input could provide a valuable boost”.

The Conference was rounded off by a SAMI Steering Committee Meeting that was held on Friday 29 January. This was conducted as an open meeting, where ordinary representatives of the SAMI consortium members were afforded the opportunity to sit-in on proceedings and provide input.