February 26, 2001
Galinski to oversee
trials at Yerkes
By Lillian Kim
Under the auspices of a newly formed partnership with the Malaria Vaccine
Initiative (MVI), a unit of the Program for Appropriate Technology in
Health, the Vaccine Research Center at Yerkes has begun the first of a
series of malaria vaccine trials that researchers hope will significantly
advance progress toward an effective vaccine.
Heading the trials is Mary Galinski, assistant professor of infectious
disease and an affiliate scientist at Yerkes. The new relationship with
MVI signifies that Emory will play a major role in the research and development
of candidate vaccines for malaria, which remains an enormous health problem
throughout the world.
Over the next several years, Galinski and her collaborator, Yerkes scientist
Alberto Moreno, will conduct multiple staggered trials in primates aimed
at assessing the safety, dosing and immunogenicity of several potential
vaccines. These primate trials are an important step in the development
of malaria vaccines.
Yerkes is paving the way for malaria vaccine development,
Galinski said, emphasizing that primate trials are vital to the successful
development of safe, effective malaria vaccines. We welcome this
opportunity to participate in the testing of vaccine candidates, which
will be chosen from among those developed by leading institutions from
various parts of the world and will involve scientists from both developed
and developing countries where malaria is prevalent.
I am pleased that [Yerkes] has joined us as a partner in the global
effort to develop a malaria vaccine, said Regina Rabinovich, director
of MVI. This is a critical public-private partnership. It is through
such partnerships that real progress towards a malaria vaccine for the
world can be made.
The establishment of the Vaccine Research Center was a crucial factor
in MVIs decision to bring its research effort to Emory. The
world-class resources of Yerkes, the malaria-specific expertise at the
Vaccine Research Center, and the partnerships MVI is creating with vaccine
developers are a synergistic combination that will enhance the rapid and
detailed evaluation of malaria candidate vaccines, Rabinovich said.
Malaria annually infects 300 million to 500 million people in more than
90 countries, according to the World Health Organization. Each year the
disease kills millions of people, mostly children. Pregnant women also
are particularly vulnerable to contracting malaria and developing life-threatening
complications. Almost half of the worlds population is considered
at risk for malaria, which is prevalent in tropical regions, including
parts of Africa, Southeast Asia, South America, Central America, India
In conjunction with her pursuit of viable vaccines, Galinski is studying
the genetic and biological makeup of Plasmodium, the organism that causes
malaria. Genetic differences among the four species of malaria that infect
humans have contributed to the difficulty in developing malaria vaccines.
Ultimately, several vaccines will be needed to eliminate sickness caused
by all four species.
In 1992, Galinski founded the Malaria Foundation Inter-national (www.malaria.org),
a nonprofit organization whose aim is to support research by forming global
networks to foster communication and collaboration among malaria scientists
and health workers.
The Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) established the
Malaria Vaccine Initiative in June 1999 through a $50 million award by
the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. PATH is an international nonprofit
organization whose mission is to improve health, especially that of women
To that end, MVI aims to accelerate the development of promising malaria vaccine candidates and ensure their availability and accessibility for the developing world.