Land Rover Celebrates The Discovery’s 30th Anniversary With Mobile Malaria Research
Crossing four countries in a specially modified variant of the Discovery, the Mobile Malaria Project team successfully tested the latest portable genetic sequencing technology in remote locations.
Led by Dr George Busby, the research team worked with local scientists to extract and analyse DNA is off-grid locations to generate important genetic data quickly. By driving a specially developed Discovery by Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations, scientists were able to avoid the usual several weeks wait for data.
In 2018, the Land Rover Bursary was awarded in partnership with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and supported the team of three Oxford University researchers on the 4,567-mile trip across Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya.
“Malaria affects millions of people all over the world every year. At Jaguar Land Rover we’re passionate about using our technology to help experts in their field make a real difference and the Land Rover Bursary is a great example of this. We’re really proud the unique Discovery developed by our Special Vehicle Operations team has helped prove that remote DNA sequencing is possible even in hard-to-reach locations.”
Dr Teve Iley
Jaguar Land Rover’s Chief Medical Officer
Equipped with a mobile genetic sequencing laboratory, the one-off Discovery offered 1,137-litre of load space with specially installed fridge/freezer to safely store scientific supplies, as well as a bespoke load space configuration system to hold the team’s equipment and an on-board expedition battery. The modified vehicle also included a purpose-built dual sun awning, rescue kit, winch, sand/mud tracks, roof rack and LED night driving lamps.
“The Discovery was the perfect tool for the job. It took the different terrains in its stride and carried all our kit with ease and performed as a mobile laboratory. Without the support of the Land Rover Bursary we simply wouldn’t have been able to make this important step of proving the viability of remote DNA sequencing in the field of malaria prevention.”
Dr George Busby
As the third-biggest killing infectious disease in the world, controlling the spread of Malaria is very important. With 90% of cases occurring in Africa, the research will help understand and identify the most effective insecticides against local mosquito populations, and the most successful treatments against the parasites they carry. As the parasites that cause malaria vary across the continent, genetic analysis is one way of providing important information on where resistance lies for local control programmes.
During the two-month long trip, the research team showcased the possibility of teaching people to use technology which generates information about the amount of resistance in a population from genetic data, using just the equipment in the Discovery. This is a key milestone in malaria studies as it proves the need for large laboratories is unwarranted and that research can be mobile.
What’s more, Land Rover has announced the winners of the 2019 bursary - an all women team, who will travel through remote rural East Africa with the aid of another bespoke Discovery to gather evidence on the factors influencing farmers’ adoption of pest management technologies, focusing on fall armyworm, a highly destructive pest threatening food security.
Applications for the 2020 Land Rover Bursary – which will be the first to use the new Defender will open on 1 September. The closing date for entries is 30 November 2019.
Contact your local Harwoods Land Rover for more information.