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The Global Malaria Action Plan announced at a UN summit in New York last month (25 September) gave a welcome boost to malaria research — aiming for US$750–900 million in funds each year until 2018. But such efforts must strike a balance between basic and applied research, says a Nature editorial.

Basic research is critical to develop new vaccines and stay ahead of drug resistance. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have recognised this need, announcing US$168 million of funding for the next generation of malaria vaccines, including early-stage laboratory research. This marks a welcome change from a foundation that usually focuses on translational and clinical research.

The authors call on other donors to follow the Gates' lead, but warn that research efforts must be coordinated across funding agencies and involve researchers in the poorer countries where the disease is endemic.

MalERA, a new group of research funders and scientists, will next year draw up a research agenda for eradicating malaria — a collaborative effort that will be essential to focusing resources and avoiding duplication and undue bureaucracy.

Link to full article in Nature