Malaria, especially deadly falciparum malaria, kills 3,000 children every day, causes chronic illness in survivors, wreaks economic havoc, and steals hope from countries already afflicted by poverty. The global burden of malaria is amplified by the emergence of multiple drug-resistant malaria parasites that are no longer curable with once effective drugs such as chloroquine or Fansidar. In much of Africa, an effective malaria treatment course (such as Coartemether) costs a week's wages, sadly putting curative treatment beyond the reach of all but the richest. Ultimately, eradication of malaria will likely require a vaccine.
D. Gray Heppner is Director of the Division of Malaria Vaccine Development at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. He leads DoD malaria vaccine development in the USA and Europe, and clinical and field trials in the USA, Thailand, Mali, and Kenya. He was Chief of Medicine & Immunology at the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences in Bangkok, Thailand (1993-1997), then Chief of Immunology and later Director of Communicable Diseases and Immunology at WRAIR. COL Heppner deployed to the Middle East as a part of a Biologic Warfare Countermeasures team in 2003. He has published on malaria in leading journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet, PLoS Clinical Trials, Infection and Immunity, and the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
COL Heppner holds a B.A. in Biochemistry and German (1978) and a M.D. (1983) from the University of Virginia, and completed residency and fellowship training at the Universities of Minnesota and Maryland. He is board certified in internal medicine and in infectious diseases, and is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit. COL Heppner is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and of the Royal Geographical Society (London).
The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in Silver Spring, Maryland is the Department of Defense's Center of Excellence for Infectious Diseases Research. 1250 military and civilian scientists conduct research to develop United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved diagnostic devices, drugs and vaccines to protect Soldiers against tropical diseases and other biomedical threats.
The WRAIR has played a crucial role in military medicine and public health in the development of FDA-approved antimalarial drugs (doxycycline, mefloquine, Malarone) and vaccines against hepatitis A, Japanese encephalitis, meningococcal meningitis, and anthrax. Current malaria efforts include development of a better treatment for severe malaria, and co-development of a pediatric malaria vaccine.
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