09 Mar. 2021
Graduate School of Medicine
We have a research focus on malaria eradication on a global scale. Malaria kills about 500,000 people a year worldwide, and 90% of these deaths are in tropical Africa. We are conducting field research in Kenya and Vanuatu.
Research in Kenya
In our project site along the shore of Lake Victoria in Kenya, 150 out of every 1,000 children die before their 5th birthdays and malaria accounts for 40% of these deaths. With insecticide-resistant vector mosquitoes, human neglect and inaction, and asymptomatic infections as major obstacles, we intend to reduce morbidity and prevent mortality due to malaria through three pillars of interventions: ceiling mosquito nets, economic approaches, and mass drug administration.
Asymptomatic adults who have acquired immunity to malaria parasites often infect their own children unknowingly. We are conducting joint research with the Graduate School of Economics to raise awareness of malaria severity and to use incentive schemes to promote self-protection against malaria as well. Since this project is funded by SATREPS (JICA and AMED), we would like to further accelerate the exchange of researchers and students.
Research in Vanuatu
We have been conducting research in Vanuatu for 35 years, and malaria eradication is becoming more and more of a reality. There are two types of malaria: Plasmodium falciparum malaria, which kills many children in tropical Africa and P. vivax malaria, which causes relapses from a dormant liver stage in Asia, the Americas, and southwest Pacific. In Vanuatu P. falciparum malaria has been almost eradicated, and the challenge now is how to eradicate P. vivax malaria, especially on isolated islands. Like our research in Kenya, we are considering the introduction of a laboratory where PCR tests can be conducted, as well as the establishment of a system where community members can proactively participate and cooperate in elimination activities in a sustainable manner.
Message to international students and young researchers
In our department, we have students and researchers with interests in various fields of life sciences such as veterinary medicine and biology, as well as medicine. From Guatemala, El Salvador, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and other countries, our members and colleagues have the drive to contribute to the eradication of malaria and other tropical diseases. We want to mentor students who share the same desire to contribute to global health, not only in the laboratory but also in the field.