Preparing and inspiring the next generation of scholars and leaders is an essential component to achieving a malaria free world. To address this challenge, Harvard University has established major educational and training activities focused on malaria.
At the inaugural 2012 edition of the Science of Eradication: Malaria leadership course at Harvard Business School, Michael Chu, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration, led a discussion of private responses to public responsibility. Professor Chu based the discussion on the HBS case he co-authored on “Farmacias Similares,” the largest pharmacy chain in Latin America, selling low-cost medication and offering doctor consultations and laboratory services to demonstrate how deficiencies in the public sector can be exploited by the private sector. The “Farmacias Simi” business model illustrates an innovative (and controversial) private sector approach in which the demands of the market were met while achieving significant returns on investment.
In 2012, the President’s Innovation Fund for International Experiences (PIFIE) funded a new multidisciplinary undergraduate colloquium titled Defeating Malaria: From the Genes to the Globe. Using malaria as a lens, the colloquium offered students an opportunity to explore complex aspects of global health. Led by faculty with deep expertise in global health research and field-based work, this Spring 2013 colloquium brought 16 Harvard College undergraduates together to gain a practical understanding of how economic, political, cultural, biological, and historical factors have shaped malaria disease.
As part of the final colloquium session, students were asked to assess specific challenges of malaria control efforts in disease endemic countries, including whether or not an elimination strategy would be a feasible goal given cultural, economic and demographic factors, transmission rates, etc. Harvard College students (from left to right) Brandon Liu, Serena Hagerty, Bonnie Lei, and Ashley Bach presented an assessment of Panama’s malaria control and elimination strategy during the final session.
Using a framework of mutual learning and a robust teaching format that features a combination of lectures, discussions, debates, and case study-analyses, Science of Eradication: Malaria course participants and teaching faculty explore the scientific and technological underpinnings of malaria,as well as the historical, political social, and economic contexts in which control, elimination, and eradication efforts have unfolded.
Nominated by a global network of malaria experts, partners, and collaborators from academia and the business, public health, government, and biomedical research sectors, course participants are comprised of the future local, national and global leaders of malaria eradication.
The diverse range of professions represented in the course is indicative of the breadth of fields and sectors that need to work together to achieve malaria eradication.
Through education and leadership development, the Defeating Malaria initiative focuses on meeting key objectives, including:
- Preparing and inspiring a future generation of scholars and leaders to create knowledge that will help control and eliminate malaria;
- Opening the minds of students to new knowledge and enabling them to take best advantage of their educational opportunities to address the challenges posed by malaria, before and after graduation;
- Empowering leaders of endemic countries and their organizations to be more effective drivers of change and advocates of malaria;
- Producing “University public goods,” that facilitates research and teaching on malaria within and beyond Harvard, enables interdisciplinary collaboration, and supports student education.
Science of Eradication: Malaria 2016
The 2016 edition of the course convened a diverse cohort of malaria experts from 29 countries worldwide, including Brazil, Cambodia, Indonesia, Mozambique, and Nigeria.
Science of Eradication: Malaria
Three institutions with deep knowledge and expertise in malaria – the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), Harvard University and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) – have joined together to offer a unique leadership training activity, called the Science of Eradication: Malaria. This leadership course provides individuals with diverse backgrounds and broad experiences in malaria control and elimination, with a multidisciplinary perspective on malaria disease eradication. By providing participants with a basic toolbox of knowledge and demonstrating the effective use of real-world evidence and data, the course aims to harness participants with the problem-solving and analytic skills necessary to design effective intervention strategies.
The inaugural course was hosted at the Harvard Business School in Boston, MA, USA in 2012. Subsequent editions of the course have rotated among the organizing partner institution locations in Barcelona and Basel. To date, 280 individuals representing 65 countries have participated in Science of Eradication: Malaria. To find out more about the course, visit the Science of Eradication: Malaria course website.
ExxonMobil Malaria Leadership Program
At this critical juncture in the fight against malaria, it is vital to build local public health research and programmatic infrastructure in areas most affected by the disease. The most important part of this infrastructure is human resource capacity––the scientists, health workers, and government officials who are capable of addressing and solving complex problems at the community level.
Developing public health leaders––particularly in the field of infectious diseases––is central to the mission of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. As part of the ExxonMobil Malaria Leadership Program, talented scientists in malaria endemic countries are selected to conduct scientifically relevant research, lead training activities, and contribute to the expansion of the Pan-African Genomics Network.
The program has supported the education of students who are specializing in infectious diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, with a special emphasis on students from resource-poor countries.
Malaria Leadership Fellow
Africa Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID)
Dean of College of Postgraduate Studies,
Mowe, Ogun State, Nigeria
Scholar of Malaria in Ghana
University of Ghana,
Dr. N. Regina Rabinovich
ExxonMobil Malaria Scholar in Residence Program
As part of the Defeating Malaria effort, Dean Michelle Williams invites established individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and expertise in malaria to spend a period of time in residence at Harvard University. Sponsored by the ExxonMobil Foundation, a dedicated partner in supporting the university’s goal of eradicating global malaria, the ExxonMobil Malaria Scholar in Residence Program offers a unique opportunity for those who have recently served in high-level positions in business, government, multilateral institutions, non-profit organizations, and research to spend time at Harvard sharing experiences with students and collaborating with renowned academic colleagues.
Dr. N. Regina Rabinovich is the 2012-2016 ExxonMobil Malaria Scholar in Residence at Harvard University. Prior to joining Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Dr. Rabinovich was the Director of Infectious Diseases Unit at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where she oversaw the development and implementation of strategies to combat malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea and neglected infectious diseases. “I’m excited to join one of the world’s leading academic institutions and to help leverage Harvard’s resources in the fight against malaria,” says Dr. Rabinovich.
Read the press release regarding Dr. Rabinovich’s appointment.
Adanna Chukwuma, a native Nigerian, entered the Doctoral Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in 2013. Her training at the Department of Global Health and Population is focused on improving health systems, and designing interventions that improve the uptake of tools known to be effective in treating and preventing malaria, such as Artemisinin-based Combination Therapies (ACTs) and insecticide-treated bednets. She hopes to gain a better understanding of how West African health systems impact health outcomes for patients with malaria.
Read an interview with Adanna in which she discusses the motives behind her chosen career path and her hopes of improving health interventions in her native Nigeria.
Adanna is an ExxonMobil Malaria Fellowship Awardee.
Global Health Meet & Greets
As part of the Undergraduate Colloquia, faculty participated in Global Health Meet & Greets at the residential houses at Harvard College, providing students with an unique opportunity to discuss their global health interests with experts from across the University.
The Defeating Malaria: From the Genes to the Globe Undergraduate Colloquium uses malaria as a lens to examine the complex realities of global health challenges. This multidisciplinary learning experience examines an ancient global health problem and analyze it from a continuum of disciplines and perspectives. Students gain a practical understanding of how economic, political, cultural, biological, and historical factors have shaped this disease.
Launched in Spring 2013, with support from the President’s Innovation Fund for International Experiences, the colloquium is led by distinguished Harvard faculty. Curricular activities include short “TED” style talks by faculty from across Harvard, country-level analysis of malaria burden, and group-based assignments.
The colloquium has offered 81 undergraduate students at Harvard College with a unique opportunity to interact closely with faculty and gain a better understanding of the role different sectors and disciplines play in addressing major global health challenges. Cohorts are comprised of a diverse group of students with a range of interests and concentrations. For example, Brandon Liu, who participated in the colloquium as a Harvard College senior, was a computer science concentrator with a passion for global health. Liu, who won a prestigious Marshall Scholarship, sees technology as a key tool in fighting disease and is planning a career that combines the use of digital tools to combat public health challenges and poverty worldwide. His fellow colloquium alumnus and Harvard College junior, Ishaan Desai, described his views on the colloquium in Achieving a Malaria-free World, a personal blog post.
The online application for the Spring 2017 edition of the Defeating Malaria Undergraduate Colloquium is now open. For more information, visit the colloquium page or email us. The Defeating Malaria: From the Genes to the Globe Undergraduate Colloquium is sponsored by the Defeating Malaria initiative and the Harvard Global Health Institute.
Malaria Control: From the Bench to the Field Course
With widespread environmental changes and population migrations, malaria has re-emerged and persisted under conditions of poverty in different areas of Latin America. The knowledge base of the molecular and cellular biology of Plasmodium parasites has exploded in the last decade. Still the impact of this knowledge and related research advances to control malaria transmission and disease is limited.
As part of a joint effort with collaborators in Brazil, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health convened Malaria Control: From the Bench to the Field, a new course that explored key aspects of malaria research, including fundamental elements of Plasmodium invasion, homing/latency, and transmission, as well as field-based approaches and testing. Held at the Fiocruz research facility in Porto Velho, Brazil, course participants included graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from Harvard University (Medical School, School of Public Health, etc.) and from academic institutions in Brazil and Latin America.
At the start of the course, students participated in a two-day public workshop titled, “Multidisciplinary Malaria Research in the Era of Elimination,” led by internationally renowned scientists and teaching faculty who presented and discussed recent advances in areas of parasite biology, vector biology, entomology, immunology, pathogenesis, and epidemiology. The main focus of the workshop centered on how research findings provide new insights to solve questions related to drug resistance, vector control, clinical management, and control of parasite transmission.
Immediately following the workshop, students participated in a 4-day course that was composed of lectures, discussions, site visits, and laboratory work. Lectures covered aspects of clinical management of malaria patients, interventions to control malaria transmission (and their challenges), and malaria surveillance. Site visits facilitated the understanding of the diverse ecological settings, and associated challenges regarding access, surveillance, and control of the disease. Sites included a combination of research laboratories, a malaria reference center, hospitals, riverine communities, and construction sites with intense environmental transformation. Laboratory-based skills training provided students with hands-on experience of state-of-art technologies and approaches. The course and public workshop were sponsored by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, National Institute of Science and Technology for Vaccines, and the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel.
Demographically, Porto Velho is the fastest growing big city in Brazil and currently has approximately 500,000 inhabitants. While malaria transmission in the city of Porto Velho is a rare event, the suburbs of the district became one of the major areas of Plasmodium transmission in Brazil. Course activities were located in the city of Porto Velho.