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Despite progress in preventing and treating malaria, over 600,000 people die each year from the disease, mostly young children. Every 75 seconds, a child under 5 loses their life to this preventable and curable disease. Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease impacting more than 80 countries, many in our region. Burnet is committed to helping achieve global malaria elimination targets.

Our main objectives are to:

  • achieve major new advances to strengthen diagnosis, treatment and prevention of malaria through innovative research
  • contribute to the World Health Organization's (WHO’s) global elimination targets of a 90 per cent reduction in malaria incidence and mortality. This will be achieved through discovery-based laboratory and translation research, and in-field education, prevention and treatment public health programs
  • support national malaria control programs in our region in reaching the WHO elimination targets.

To achieve our goals, we work with partners in Australia and internationally, especially in malaria-endemic regions in the Pacific, Southeast Asia and East Africa. We also collaborate with industry partners to develop vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. Burnet’s Malaria Program focuses on five main areas:

  1. Diagnostics:
    • Creating new malaria diagnostics and tools and strategies for improved malaria treatment and enhanced surveillance. 

  2. Vaccines:
    • Understanding immunity to malaria to develop effective vaccines against the two major causes of human malaria, Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax.
    • Advancing the development and evaluation of leading malaria vaccine candidates.

  3. Drugs and Drug Resistance
    • Developing new antimalarial drugs and tracking and preventing the spread of drug resistance, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

  4. Prevention and Surveillance 
    • Establishing surveillance and response systems to improve malaria control efficiency and fast-track the pathways to elimination.
    • Developing and evaluating improved malaria prevention strategies. 

  5. Community Empowerment
    • Operational and implementation research to increase access to quality health care services and malaria prevention.
    • Supporting improved health behaviours, strengthening health systems and delivery of health care, and supporting communities in malaria elimination activities.

Together, here are some of the ways we’ve made a positive contribution towards reaching the global malaria elimination targets

  • discovered new insights into how drug resistance may emerge in populations and how to better quantify and monitor its spread
  • identified new antimalarial compounds with the potential for development into drugs, such as malaria tablets
  • identified immune responses that protect against malaria and new approaches for vaccine development
  • developed new low-cost diagnostic tests to guide the treatment of malaria
  • developed novel tools to enhance surveillance and tracking of malaria in populations
  • created strategies in affected communities to address gaps in health services and coverage to improve diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

participants recruited so far in a cross-sectional survey of pregnant women in Papua New Guinea to evaluate a Highly Sensitive Rapid Diagnostic Test for malaria.


malaria projects supported by Burnet with a focus on creating the greatest impact on the health of resource-poor communities like Papua New Guinea.


antigen combinations examined by Burnet researchers to identify those most promising for malaria vaccine development.


is the number of core proteins in PTEX, a parasite gateway discovered by Burnet researchers. PTEX serves as an entry point for the malaria parasite into red blood cells.

Working Groups

Burnet is an Australian-based medical research and public health institute and international non-government organisation that is working towards a more equitable world through better health.

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