Intelligent comic educating researchers of tomorrow

An interactive comic book, produced at the University of Glasgow, will become the latest global educational tool in the fight against malaria as it is launched live online.

‘Malaria: The Battle Against a Microscopic Killer’, is an ‘intelligent comic book’ written by Edward Ross and Jamie Hall (a post-graduate student at the University of Glasgow, Wellcome Trust Centre for Molecular Parasitology) produced by the European Virtual Institute of Malaria Research (EVIMalaR), which is based at the University of Glasgow. It has been designed to engage the next generation of malaria researchers and allows students in schools and colleges around the world to learn about the disease, how it is transmitted and what the scientific community is doing to fight it.

‘Malaria: The Battle Against a Microscopic Killer’, describes the infection process, explaining how the malaria parasites enter the body and replicate whilst avoiding detection by the immune system. It also outlines the history of malaria research, from the pioneering experiments of nineteenth century scientists, right up to the modern day effort which involves the collaboration of multi-million pound research institutes and thousands of researchers around the world.

The resource has already been translated into German, French, Portuguese, with Hindi Swahili and more languages planned in the near future, and will become a vital learning and teaching tool for use in schools and colleges around the world.

Professor Andy Waters, Professor of Molecular and Developmental Parasitology at the University of Glasgow, said: “Malaria is currently wreaking inestimable havoc on the subtropical regions of the world. The work of EVIMalaR continues to be crucial for dictating and driving forward the European research agenda and raising awareness about the devastation that malaria is still causing around the world.

“We hope that our intelligent comic will be a useful teaching resource for schools and colleges around the world and will explain the research process without oversimplifying it and introduce the topic to a new generation of malaria researchers.”

Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasite. The parasites are spread to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes, called "malaria vectors", which bite mainly between dusk and dawn. Most cases of malaria occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

It’s estimated that there are around 300 million of cases of malaria reported annually, with around two-thirds of the world’s population at risk of infection. In 2010 malaria caused the deaths of around 655,000 people, the majority of which were children under the age of five.

EVIMalaR is Europe’s biggest malaria research institute, involving 62 research groups from around the world and undertakes world-leading research into the malaria parasite and identifying targets for new drug therapies and vaccines. The comic book was welcomed by the European Commission at its Research Open Day in Brussels on 13 May.

You can read and download the intelligent comic in printable, high-res files at:­/ .

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