MAL-ED Consortium 4th Annual Meeting

The MAL-ED Consortium held its 4th Annual Meeting on May 14-16, 2012 at the Intercontinental Harbor Court in Baltimore, Maryland. Nearly 100 MAL-ED Consortium investigators from the eight field sites, affiliated U.S. institutions and MAL-ED companion projects came together to share their scientific progress and to discuss future plans for the Etiology, Risk Factors, and Interactions of Enteric Infections and Malnutrition and the Consequences for Child Health Project. Program officials from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (the Consortium’s financial supporter) and from the U.S. National Institutes of Health were also in attendance.

The five-year MAL-ED clinical research project is designed to investigate linkages between malnutrition and intestinal infections, and their individual or combined effects on growth and developmental shortfalls in children living in resource-constrained sites in developing countries. The meeting provided an opportunity to hear from each of the clinical/field sites located in Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, and Tanzania on the status of enrollment and follow-up of children in the birth cohort study at their site.  The staggered enrollment of subjects into the birth cohort ended in February of 2012. Each of the sites exceeded their goal of enrolling 200 children over the past two years. With the completion of enrollment at each site, Data Coordinating Center (DCC) team members presented an initial analysis of MAL-ED’s first complete dataset comprising all children in their first month of life. Meeting participants also heard about progress on the case – control studies taking place at the Brazil and Bangladesh sites.

2012 MAL-ED Consortium Conference in Baltimore, MD

2012 MAL-ED Consortium Conference in Baltimore, MD

In addition to the site-specific progress reports and the DCC presentation, each technical subcommittee gave an update on issues, opportunities and ongoing analyses of available technical data, including those related to gut function, nutrition, vaccine response and cognitive development. During the meeting there were several presentations and much discussion on the types of innovative statistical and psychometric approaches that will be required to analyze the complex datasets generated by the project. Importantly, the meeting allowed participants to break out into working groups that identified strategies for developing analytical plans that will address the many questions that the MAL-ED consortium is considering and has data to answer.  These analytical plans were prioritized and are providing the framework for the next phase of the project.

At the conclusion of the meeting, participants felt confident in the infrastructure that has been established and in the tremendous value of the datasets and biological samples that have been and are being collected. Thanks to all who made this meeting a success and who are working diligently to find answers to some of the world’s most pressing issues.