The World Health Organization estimates there were ~214 million new cases and 438,000 deaths due to malaria in 2015. While this represents a significant decline in morbidity and mortality over the past decade, there is no broadly effective licensed malaria vaccine available and all currently used antimalarial drugs are under threat due to parasite drug resistance. This places recent reductions in malaria morbidity and mortality in a precarious situation. With ~3.2 billion people at risk of malaria and a global agenda focused on eradication, there is an urgent need to develop new drugs with novel modes of action for both the prevention and treatment of malaria. In this presentation the changing priorities in malaria drug discovery will be discussed in the context of the global agenda of malaria eradication and data presented on new drug leads under investigation within the GRIDD Tropical Parasitology laboratory, including HDAC inhibitor type compounds and novel slow action compounds from the CSIRO Compound Library.
Biosketch: Professor Kathy Andrews leads the Tropical Parasitology laboratory at the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery (GRIDD), Griffith University. Her work focuses on the discovery of new drugs for malaria prevention and treatment. Kathy obtained her PhD in microbiology 1998 followed by postdoctoral work on a malaria vaccine project at the QIMR. In 1998, Kathy was awarded a prestigious von Humboldt Fellowship to work on pregnancy malaria at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Kathy returned to the QIMR in 2003, developing a research program focused on malaria drug discovery. During that time, she was the Executive Officer of the Griffith Medical Research College (2006-2009) and recipient of the 2008 Queensland Premiers Award for Medical Research. In 2009, Kathy returned to Griffith University as an ARC Future Fellow. Kathy is committed to contributing to the scientific discipline and is a past Director of the Australian Society for Medical Research and Executive Council member of the Australian Society for Parasitology. She is currently a member of the GRIDD Leadership Team, heading the Clinical Engagement Portfolio, and founder and leader of the That’s RAD! Science STEM outreach project. Kathy has published >85 papers, supervised more than 20 PhD and Honours students to completion and has attracted significant research funding for her work, including leading two current NHMRC Project grants. In 2017 Kathy was awarded the Queensland Women in Technology Life Science Research Leader award