Typical Fulani and Mossi village at a rural study site in southwestern Burkina Faso.
Malaria remains as one of the most important causes of childhood morbidity in mortality, with nearly 90% of the burden falling in sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Sunil Parikh has been working together with colleagues in Uganda and Burkina Faso to conduct field-based studies of malaria in vulnerable populations, namely young children, pregnant women, and those with HIV co-infection. The Parikh Lab has focused on understanding the determinants of drug efficacy in these vulnerable populations with the goal of impacting policy. Through a combination of clinical trials, observational field-based studies, and lab-based work, the Parikh lab is characterizing the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of artemisinin-based combination therapies, and using multifaceted approaches to optimize the use of these drugs to improve efficacy, reduce toxicity, and deter the development and spread of drug resistance, both in the context of treatment and prevention. In Burkina Faso, work has additionally focused on understanding the immunogenetic basis for differential susceptibility to malaria in the Fulani ethnic group. Other recent/current project sites include Bhutan, Nigeria, and Malawi. Secondary faculty working on malaria include Professors Erol Fikrig and Richard Bucala. The Fikrig lab focuses on studies of anopheles vector biology and the Bucula lab on immunogenetics of malaria susceptibility.