Protecting Against Global Health Threats
Donna L. Parker, MD, FACP
Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Student Affairs
We’re preventing the spread of infectious diseases and we’re protecting people against the effects of global health threats.
The Center for Vaccine Development (CVD), an organized research center of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is internationally renowned for creating and testing vaccines against a host of infectious diseases, such as smallpox, the West Nile virus, and H1N1. The Center’s staff of molecular biologists, immunologists, physicians, and others, conduct ongoing research and clinical studies in Maryland and the U.S., as well as around the world.
In fact, a team of researchers led by Christopher Plowe, MD, Chief of the CVD Malaria Section and Professor of Microbiology & Immunology and Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine, along with members of the Malaria Research and Training Center at the University of Bamako in Mali, made the important discovery — truly a teachable moment — that a new vaccine for malaria may be effective for protecting young children, who are most vulnerable to the disease because they have not built up the same natural immunity as adults.
A child dies of malaria every 30 seconds according to the World Health Organization, and there is no approved vaccine to protect against the condition. In this new study, researchers found a vaccine that stimulated strong and long-lasting immune responses in young children. These findings may lead to the first vaccine that reproduces the natural protective immunity that normally takes a lifetime of intense exposure to malaria to develop. This vaccine could lead to the first multi-component immunization to protect against the broad array of malaria parasites that exist — saving hundreds of millions of lives.