DURHAM, N.C. – A new $2.2 million, 4-year grant from the National Institutes of Health will support research by a Duke University-led team to promote sustainable strategies to curb the spread of malaria, and protect human and environmental health in regions where the potentially deadly, mosquito-borne disease occurs.

“We’ll be performing experiments in 24 villages in the Mvomero district of Tanzania to assess the effectiveness of different intervention strategies individually and in combination,” said principal investigator Randall A. Kramer, professor of environmental economics at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and the Duke Global Health Institute.

What Kramer and his colleagues learn will be used to refine a model they have developed, called the Malaria Decision Analysis Support Tool (MDAST), which scientists and public health officials can use to improve the effectiveness and safety of malaria control strategies in differing localized conditions and circumstances worldwide.

In the Tanzania experiments, villages will be randomly assigned to receive one of four disease-control options: no intervention; treatment with mosquito larvicides; rapid diagnostic testing for malaria by health workers; or both larviciding and rapid diagnostic testing. This will allow the researchers to better understand which strategy or combination of them works best, in different conditions, to protect human health without posing undue human or environmental risks from the misuse or overuse of chemical larvicides.

“The central objective is to improve malaria control through an implementation science approach that integrates health delivery and decision support modeling, to promote joint optimization of vector control and disease management strategies,” Kramer said.

Marie Lynn Miranda, associate professor of environmental sciences and policy and director of the Children’s Environmental Health Initiative at the Nicholas School, and associate professor of pediatrics at the Duke School of Medicine, is Kramer’s co-principal investigator on the new grant.

Their team includes collaborators from Duke, the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and the National Institute for Medical Research in Tanzania.