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The Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) was established in 1997 with a mission to strengthen and sustain through collaborative research and training, the capacity of malaria-endemic countries in Africa to carry out research that is required to develop and improve tools for malaria control and to strengthen the research-control interphase.

MIM is an alliance of individuals, funding partners and four autonomous constituents: the MIM/TDR, MIMCom, MR4 and the MIM Secretariat.

MIM Objectives
MIM contributes to global efforts to address the problem of malaria by facilitating the emergence of dynamic malaria research networks and collaboration with malaria control programs in Africa through the following objectives:

  • Developing sustainable malaria research capacity in Africa – through international and Pan-African scientific partnerships and training.
  • Promoting global communication and cooperation – between institutions in an effort to maximize impact of resources and avoid duplication of effort.
  • Ensuring research findings are applied to malaria treatment and control – to translate practical problems into manageable research questions, by stimulating and facilitating dialogues among scientists, public health professionals, policy makers and industry.
  • Raising international public awareness of the problem of malaria – to raise the status of malaria on political agendas to mobilize resources and action.

MIM/TDR is embedded in the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases. MIM/TDR evaluates research grant applications from African malaria scientists and awards funds via a competitive peer-review process.

Objectives
Facilitates through sponsoring research promoting:

  1. Generation of knowledge and tools for malaria control in Africa;
  2. Training opportunities leading to a critical mass of African scientists and control managers for engagement in discovery, development, and integration, of new tools into policy and operational guidelines; and
  3. Creation of research partnerships within and outside of Africa and technology transfer through inter- and multi-country research projects and networks.

Research Priority Areas

  1. Chemotherapy and mechanisms of resistance to antimalarial drugs;
  2. Health system research to improve malaria control in Africa;
  3. Malaria vector control;
  4. Development of malaria control tools from products of indigenous plants;
  5. Evaluation of malaria control interventions, new strategies, and policies; and
  6. Malaria pathogenesis.

MIM TDR Task Force
The Task Force manages the process for awarding research grants, which are peer reviewed for among other things competitiveness, compliance for concurrent research priority areas, research capacity building for African institutions, and application guidelines. It comprises of currently practising international class African and non-African research scientists.


MIMCom is the MIM internet communication arm based at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) in the US and comprising telecommunications, information access, and new tools for research, training, and evaluation. MIMCom has built fast and reliable Internet connections via satellite at 17 research sites all over Africa. Further, MIMCom works to improve access to medical journals and important databases on-line to the malaria research community in Africa.

Activities:

  1. Site surveys to determine requirements and their costs;
  2. Negotiations with African telecommunications regulatory authorities;
  3. Assistance with equipment purchase and installation;
  4. System monitoring, technical assistance, training, handling of agreements;
  5. Establishment of document delivery systems and information portals;
  6. Promotion of malaria research agendas.

Individual sites and their funding partners are responsible for equipment costs and the shared cost of using satellite bandwidth

MIMCom Partners

  1. Seven African institutions in eleven countries namely Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Mali, Zimbabwe, and South Africa;
  2. United States: National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  3. United Kingdom: Redwing Satellite Solutions Ltd.


MR4 is the Malaria Research Reference Reagent Resource Center, a biological resource center providing research reagents for free to malaria scientists. The MR4 is located at the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) in Manassas, Virginia, US. MR4 serves the malaria research community by providing reagents and training. It has a collection of well characterized research materials that are responsive to specific requests and research projects.

Reagents Stocks
MR4 currently has over 300 reagents including antibodies, antigens, plasmids, expressed sequence tag (EST) clones, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers and genomic/cDNA libraries, and numerous species and strains of Plasmodium and Anopheles. All of these are contributed for distribution worldwide through the generosity of scientists in the malaria research community

MR4 Oversight
MR4 has an international Scientific Advisory Committee (MR4 SAC), which provides:

  1. Oversight of its operations;
  2. Prioritizes reagent acquisition and training needs; and
  3. Liaison to the malaria research community.

Expertise on the preservation and distribution of reagents is provided by staff from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), American Type Culture Collection (ATCC), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


MIM Secretariat
The MIM Secretariat is the coordinating arm of the MIM, initially based in London at the Wellcome Trust (1997-1999) then at Fogarty International Center at NIH, US (1999-2001) and subsequently at the Karolinska Institutet/Stockholm University, Stockholm Sweden (2003-2005) and at African Malaria Network Trust(AMANET) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania(2006- 2010). From October 15, 2010, the Biotechnology Centre of the University of Yaounde I/Armsterdam Medical Centre officially became the new host of the MIM secretariatand.

The MIM Secretariat works to maintain cohesion between the MIM constituents, identify research gaps, disseminate information to malaria researchers in Africa and organizes the Pan-African conferences. Together with the other components and the strategic advisory board the secretariat assists in developing and implementing a cohesive strategy for the efforts. The secretariat rotates among member countries to maintain the multilateral component.

Specific Objectives
The Secretariat being the MIM coordinating arm has an overriding aim of advancing the MIM mission and objectives. Its specific objectives are:

  1. To strengthen research capacity
  2. To advocate on the global and African malaria burden among African leaders and health policy decision makers
  3. To promote African involvement and commitment in the MIM Alliance
  4. To enhance communication and coordination among the MIM constituents and other malaria control alliances
  5. To facilitate the translation of research findings into malaria control programmes

Core Activities

  • Maintain and update MIM Listserv of malaria focused scientists, public health professionals, and policy makers for latest opportunities in research funding, job advertisements, training and travel scholarships and fellowships.
  • Convening governance meetings and conference calls
  • Advocating and spearheading the MIM mission
  • Commissioning a mid-term and end of programme external review of the MIM Secretariat activities
  • Coordinating fundraising
  • Producing MIM Newsletter and maintaining a bilingual website and MIM list-serve
  • Promoting innovative use of the internet through discussion groups, improved access of literature and data sharing
  • Promoting networking of MIM stakeholders
  • Spearheading capacity building including training in malaria research
  • Promoting effective communication on malaria research among stakeholders
  • Promoting south-south and north-south collaboration
  • Brokering funding for research and training
  • Convening MIM meetings and MIM Pan-African Malaria Conference
  • Establishing and maintaining The Africa Malaria Research & Control Forum to address issues of scaling up new malaria interventions and translation of research results into action.
 
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