- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Malaria is indeed a global terrorist.
The disease, caused by the parasite Plasmodium and transmitted by infected anopheline mosquitoes, strikes some 350 to 500 million people a year, killing more than a million individuals, primarily in Africa, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So, it's good news to hear that malaria researcher Win Surachetpong, a doctoral candidate in the Shirley Luckhart lab at UC Davis, is the 2009 winner of the William C. Reeves New Investigator Award, given to the best scientific paper presented at the annual Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California (MVCAC) meeting.
Surachetpong received $1000 and a plaque at the 77th annual MVCAC meeting, held in “Win is a very talented, dedicated student and I have been extremely fortunate to have him in my lab,” said Luckhart, a noted malaria researcher and an associate professor of medical microbiology and immunology at the UC Davis School of Medicine, and a faculty member of the Graduate Groups of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Microbiology; Immunology; and the Graduate Program in Entomology.
“His work,” she said, “has been the foundation of the development of a completely new area of work for us that will probably keep us busy for years to come." On a personal note, Win is a good friend to everyone in the lab and always ready with a quick smile and good word for the day."
The award memorializes William C. Reeves, a renowned entomologist and professor at UC Berkeley who was widely regarded as the world's foremost authority on the spread and control of mosquito-borne diseases. Reeves (1916-2004) was a frequent visitor to the UC Davis campus.
“Win is a very talented, dedicated student and I have been extremely fortunate to have him in my lab,” said Luckhart, a noted malaria researcher and an associate professor of medical microbiology and immunology at the UC Davis School of Medicine, and a faculty member of the Graduate Groups of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Microbiology; Immunology; and the Graduate Program in Entomology.
Surachetpong said that malaria “remains an enormous public health burden, especially in developing countries.”
“New strategies including integrated vector management in combination with current conventional malaria control efforts such as drug treatment and bednet usage could synergistically reduce malaria transmission,” Surachetpong said.
“However, our current knowledge of vector-host-parasite interactions is limited,” he noted. “For example, how mosquito innate immune responses control malaria parasite development and how blood-derived factors modulate mosquito biology remain interesting topics.”
“In this study, we reveal the role of MEK-ERK (mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase) signaling in regulation of malaria parasite development by an ingested blood-derived, mammalian cytokine in the mosquito host.”
The results, the researchers said, “provide new insights into the host-parasite-vector relationship that could be utilized as a foundation for new strategies to reduce malaria transmission.”
A native of
Last year Surachetpong was awarded a prestigious Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation health travel award to present his research at a Keystone Symposia conference in Bangkog, Thailand. The meeting focused on the pathogenesis and control of emerging infections and drug-resistant organisms.
Surachetpong received his doctorate of veterinary science at