Photo of a red blood cell infected with malaria parasites
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Red blood cell infected with malaria parasites. Photo credit NIAID
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By Clare McGrane

Viruses and parasites are constantly changing. That’s the reason last year’s flu shot isn’t as effective against this year’s flu — the virus has evolved to resist it.

The same is true for malaria, but unlike the flu, malaria is one of the most deadly parasites in the world, and it’s becoming resistant to the lifesaving drugs that can cure it.

Fighting drug-resistant malaria is one goal of the University of Washington’s Malaria Evolution in South Asia initiative (MESA), an international collaboration and one of the 10 International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research. The center announced Tuesday it has received $9.3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health to continue its work.

The center is directed by Pradipsinh K. Rathod, a UW chemistry professor and adjunct professor of global health, and includes researchers from the UW, Harvard University, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Stanford University, as well as hundreds of clinicians and field researchers at six sites in India.

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