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Vol. LXII, No. 6
March 19, 2010
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NIAID Celebrates 20-Year Partnership With Malian Scientists

  Schoolchildren in Bancoumana, Mali, celebrate the memory of former NIAID deputy director Dr. John R. LaMontagne and welcome visitors from Bamako and the United States.  
  Schoolchildren in Bancoumana, Mali, celebrate the memory of former NIAID deputy director Dr. John R. LaMontagne and welcome visitors from Bamako and the United States.  

An NIAID delegation recently visited Bancoumana, Mali, to commemorate the 20-year partnership between NIAID and the University of Bamako School of Medicine and to honor the life and work of former NIAID deputy director Dr. John R. LaMontagne. The delegation joined representatives of the Malian government, community leaders and local villagers to dedicate a community-based laboratory and clinical research site to the memory of LaMontagne, who served as NIAID deputy director from 1998 until his death in 2004.

The Malian hosts provided the U.S. visitors with a West African-style celebration. Hundreds of local schoolchildren lined the main road into Bancoumana, chanting LaMontagne’s name to welcome the visitors. The celebration continued with traditional singing and dancing in preparation for the unveiling of the plaque dedicating the research center.

LaMontagne’s life and work were honored at the dedication of a community-based laboratory
and clinical research site in Bancoumana, Mali. Shown are (from l) Dr. Kathryn Zoon, Mrs. Elaine LaMontagne and Dr. Hugh Auchincloss.
LaMontagne’s life and work were honored at the dedication of a community-based laboratory and clinical research site in Bancoumana, Mali. Shown are (from l) Dr. Kathryn Zoon, Mrs. Elaine LaMontagne and Dr. Hugh Auchincloss.

The visit to Mali included a symposium to mark the 20th anniversary of the scientific partnership to conduct research on the Anopheles mosquitoes that transmit malaria. Growth in the collaboration between NIAID and the University of Bamako School of Medicine led to designation of the research partnership as an International Center of Excellence in Research (ICER) in 2002. The ICER program is designed to build sustainable research capacity in regions with a high infectious disease burden. The Mali ICER currently provides in-country support for state-of-the-art laboratories at the University of Bamako and laboratory field sites in the villages of Bancoumana, Doneguebougou and Bandiagara on the Dogon Plateau.

The scientific priorities of the ICER now encompass research on malaria pathogenesis; testing of candidate malaria vaccines; clinical research on filariasis, leishmaniasis; and HIV/TB co-infection. In 2008, scientists from NIAID and the University of Bamako initiated the collaboration to study relapsing fever, a bacterial illness spread by ticks. The training of young scientists has always been an integral component of the ICER program; over the last 20 years the initiative has trained dozens of young Malian scientists at academic institutions and laboratories in Mali and the United States.

For more information on the dedication of Bancoumana research station or the NIAID ICER in Mali, visit www3.niaid.nih.gov/topics/globalResearch/.— NIHRecord Icon

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