So you want to be a Scientist? – by Octavia

…And you have a grudge against these little horrors:


In many parts of the developed world, the humble blood-sucking mosquito is an itchy annoyance. Unfortunately, in tropical and sub-tropical regions mosquitoes transmit malarial parasites. These infest red blood cells, causing malaria. This disease can kill either by destroying sufficient amounts of red blood cells, or by clogging the capillaries that transmit the blood to organs – including the brain. Over 500 million people are infected with malaria each year, and of these, 1-3 million die of it. Most of these deaths occur in young children – every 60 seconds, an African child dies of malaria.

As yet, there is no vaccine, and preventive methods (such as mosquito nets) are used. However, treating malaria still takes up vast amounts of resources, especially in African countries, where as much as 40% of government spending on health is directed to combat the disease.

The Swiss Tropical Institute is working on modelling the transmission dynamics and health effects of malaria, in order to more efifciently combat it. Current model inputs include the characteristics of individual infections, the short-term and long-term effects on individuals, and the interdependence of hosts. It is estimated that without distributed computing, it could take decades to complete these simulations.

By downloading the BOINC system, your computer can help assist the modelling process, and you can aid in the treatment and understanding of malaria… without having to get a degree in epidemiology.


Africa at Home


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