Jennifer L. Weisman, UCSF
Malaria is a devastating disease that affects 300 to 500 million people annually. 1.5 to 2.7 million of these infected individuals die every year, the majority of these deaths occurring in children under the age of five. The rates of malaria infection and death are increasing over the years instead of decreasing. IN the early 1960's, drug-resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum (the major causative agent of lethal human malaria) were not prevalent. Today, drug-resistant strains have emerged in practically all malaria-endemic regions, and now 40% of the global human population is at risk.
I will talk about our current efforts in antimalarial drug discovery in Professor DeRisi's lab at UCSF. We use a variety of techniques and approaches to increase our understanding of the malaria parasite and we thereby aim to determine better ways of treating the disease. One approach we use is high throughput screening of potential drug compounds against live parasite cultures. I will discuss some of the challenges we face in dealing with the large amounts of data we generate in our drug screening efforts.