Sarah: I noticed in a tweet by James Moody (@jamesbmoody) last night that the 2010 winners of the L’Oreal Australia For Women in Science Fellowships 2010 had been announced. One of the winners is Rowena Martin (Australian National University, Canberra/University of Melbourne) for her work into overcoming resistance to the drug chloroquine in malaria parasites. I was interested to read of her research, since I worked in a parasitic disease and immunology lab in Jakarta, Indonesia during 2000-2002. The lab had reported chloroquine-resistance in the 2 malaria species that cause morbidity and mortality in Borneo and Irian Jaya, Indonesia (Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax) since the 1990s. Hence chloroquine resistant malaria is right on our doorstep! With changing insect distributions that accompany human activity and/or climate change, Australia needs to be part of the global fight to find new effective drugs against malaria, and Rowena’s work forms part of this critical endeavour. Cool. Keep it up.
As a related side-story, follow this link to see a photo of batik – traditional Indonesian dyed cloth – using microscopic images of malaria parasites as the motif. The malaria batik resulted from an innovative collaboration between American and Indonesian staff in our lab, and was used as the fabric for many shirts worn by our staff to malaria conferences around the globe!