Vasant Muralidharan, an assistant professor of cellular biology in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and in the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, received $150,000 from the March of Dimes Foundation to investigate new drug targets for malaria.
Malaria is one of the leading causes of infant mortality in the world, resulting in almost 600,000 deaths each year. All the clinical symptoms of malaria result from the growth of the malaria parasite in human red blood cells. The parasite completely remodels the red blood cells to replicate, and Muralidharan’s research will focus on the mechanisms that underlie the parasite’s ability to transform red blood cells. The goal is to create new anti-malarials that interfere with the parasite’s replication.
The Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Awards are funded in a program designed to support scientists just embarking on their independent research careers. Created in 1973 and named for the first March of Dimes chairman and president, this program provides funding to young investigators to start their own research projects on topics related to the mission of the March of Dimes.