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The MacArthur Foundation has awarded Harvard an $800,000 grant to fund further research into parasitic diseases, the foundation announced last week.
Harvard's grant will help fund continuing University research aimed at finding cures for diseases such as malaria, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis and filariasis.
"We've been working on parasitic diseases for 15 years," said John R. David, one of the two Harvard grant recipients. "Something like this makes a major impact."
"These parasitic diseases are one of the major health problems in the developing world, affecting over a quarter of the people on the globe," said David, professor of medicine at the School of Public Health..
The funds will be used by David and his associate, Christopher T. Walsh '65, chair of the Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Department at the Medical School. Walsh was in Switzerland and could not be reached for comment.
The University's $800,000 award is part of four million dollars distributed by the MacArthur Foundation to eight institutions throughout the country.
"I think the MacArthur Foundation plays an important role in funding this area, as there certainly is not enough money to adequately carry out research," David said.
"This was an underfunded area of research where there was great potential for rapid advancement which can affect millions of people," David said.
The MacArthur Foundation's stated objective for the grants is to accelerate research into parasite-related diseases by linking many of the best researchers around the world.
"Given the recent developments in molecular biology, the tools are at hand or within reach to help us understand some of the fundamental mechanisms that parasites use to fool the immune system of the host," said Ted Hearne, a spokesperson for the MacArthur Foundation.
"We, the developed countries, have the tools which may help find the solution to this problem which primarily afflicts the less developed countries," said Hearne.
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