UF/IFAS scientist receives share of $6 million FNIH grant award for malaria research

Jeffrey Bloomquist, a member of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, will lead one of four projects awarded a share of a $6 million grant program for malaria control research.

The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health announced $6 million in grants awarded through its “New Insecticides for Malaria Control: Discovery Research for the Identification of New Chemical Entities for Vector Control of Malaria” program.

The awards support innovative research projects that look for solutions to malaria transmission by mosquitoes. Bloomquist will receive nearly $1.4 million for his three-year project, which will attempt to create a new commercial insecticide that can be used in the fight against malaria.

He will work with state-of-the-art molecular modeling by Max Totrov of Molsoft LLC to design safe and effective insecticidal molecules. Paul Carlier, a chemistry professor at Virginia Tech, will chemically synthesize the molecules. Bloomquist’s laboratory will test the effectiveness of the compounds on susceptible mosquitoes, as well as those resistant to currently used insecticides. Bloomquist came to UF in 2009. He holds an IFAS faculty appointment as well as an appointment with UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute. His research focuses primarily on neuroscience and toxicology in insects and mammals.

Malaria afflicts hundreds of millions of people around the globe, killing about 1 million children each year. Increasingly insecticide-resistant mosquitoes and parasites are an added challenge for scientists working to control malaria. No new public health insecticides have been developed for malaria control in decades and existing treatments are losing efficacy.

The FNIH grant program was established to support innovative approaches to this critical problem.

In 2009, FNIH received a five year, $24 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to extend the research goals of the Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative. For more information about the FNIH Global Health portfolio, visit www.fnih.org.

The Foundation for the NIH is a nonprofit charitable organization that raises private-sector funds for an array of programs that complement and enhance National Institutes of Health priorities and activities.