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ICMR-NIMR Field Unit: Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Chennai city reports 53.6% to 78.8% of the total malaria cases in Tamil Nadu (1991 to 2019). Plasmodium vivax is the predominant malaria parasite, which accounts for 93 to 99.4% of the cases (1991 to 2019). In order to understand the transmission dynamics of malaria in an urban ecotype, a field unit was established in July 1986. The primary objective of the field unit was to develop an eco-friendly, cost-effective and sustainable technology for control of Urban Malaria with Chennai as a role model. Ever since its inception, the field unit has carried out a number of scientific/research projects. Based on the successful field demonstration of bioenvironmental control of malaria in Chennai, the ‘Seven point action plan for Malaria control’ was submitted to Govt. of Tamil Nadu in 1992. Large scale field evaluation of bio-larvicides in two major waterways in Chennai was later on incorporated for mosquito control in Tamil Nadu. Malariogenic stratification to control malaria in Dindigul municipality has resulted in the development of a GIS-based Malaria Surveillance System.Moreover, bionomics of ecological variants of the urban malaria vector, Anopheles stephensi in Chennai; Rainwater harvesting (RWH) and methods to mitigate mosquito/vector breeding in Chennai are some of the major projects undertaken by the field unit. The field unit has evaluated many new larvicides and adulticides formulations, repellents, and diagnostic kits, the results of which have been translated to the national programme. The field unit has identified a new larvivorous fish, Puntius sharmai in Chennai (1992), new sibling species of Anopheles culicifacies complex (Species E) in Rameswaram Island (1992), confirmed the taxonomic ambiguity of indigenous larvivorous fishes, Aplocheilus parvusand A. blocki in Chennai (2007) and jointly identified a new mosquito species Heizmannia rajagopalani in Idukki district, Kerala (2019). Environmental monitoring of vector breeding habitats identified overhead tanks as the potential habitat with a strong positive correlation to fluoride influencing oviposition of An. Stephensi.The field unit was also actively involved as PI/ Co-PI in many international projects like WHOPES, Geneva and Center for the Study of Complex Malaria in India, a U 19 ICEMR program funded by NIH, USA with collaborations from New York University and Pennsylvania State University. Eco-epidemiology and transmission projects have reduced the malaria burden by 85.6% from 2011 to 2015. All these research studies highlight integrated environmental, vector management methods to eliminate malaria and are intended to strengthen the intervention operations of the local health authorities by providing necessary scientific inputs. The field unit also provides technical support to the state/national programme by imparting training to Postgraduate/ diploma students in medical laboratory technology, graduate and postgraduate students of medical colleges besides, arts and science colleges. The field unit has also carried out several situation analysis and outbreak investigations for malaria in Tamil Nadu, Odisha, and Kerala besides, dengue and Chikungunya outbreak investigations in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Several workshops for Inter-sectoral coordination for malaria control for engineers and public health officials of state and central government were undertaken. The research activities are being carried out in coordination with the Greater Chennai Corporation, Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Govt. of Tamil Nadu and Regional Office for Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India.

Research Staff

Research Staff

  1. Alex Eapen, Scientist E & Officer In-Charge
  2. K. John Ravindran, Research Scientist
  3. N. Bhaskar, Technical Officer C
  4. B. Reeta, Technical Officer C
Ongoing Research Projects

Ongoing Research Projects

  1. Pilot Scale Bio-ecological studies on Aedes aegypti population in Chennai city, Tamil Nadu towards developing an alternate Dengue/Chikungunya control strategy.
  2. Transmission dynamics and infectivity of Anopheles stephensi in Chennai.
  3. Screening of mangrove ecosystem and associated habitats for identification of potential bacterial larvicides.
  4. Pilot study on the midgut bacterial flora of Anopheles stephensi (Liston 1901), urban malaria vector in Chennai, India.
  5. Malaria transmission among fisher folk in Rameswaram (Rural) and Chennai (Urban), Tamil Nadu and development of module to strengthen surveillance mechanism.
Recent Research Publications (last 5 years)

Recent Research Publications (last 5 years)

  1. Shalini S, Chaudhuri S, Sutton PL, Mishra N, Srivastava N, David JK, Ravindran KJ, Carlton JM, Eapen A. Chloroquine efficacy studies confirm drug susceptibility of Plasmodium vivax in Chennai, India.Malar J. 2014 Dec 1; 13(1): 129.
  2. Venkatesan R, Ravindran J, Eapen A, William J. Insecticidal and growth regulating activity of crude leaf extracts of Cassia occidentalis L. (Caesalpinaceae) against the urban malaria vector, Anopheles stephensi Liston (Diptera: Culicidae). Asian Pac J Trop Dis. 2014 Sep 1; 4: S578-82.
  3. Tennyson S, Ravindran J, Eapen A, William J. Ovicidal activity of Ageratum houstonianum Mill.(Asteraceae) leaf extracts against Anopheles stephensi, Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus (Diptera: Culicidae). Asian Pac J Trop Dis. 2015 Mar 1; 5(3): 199-203.
  4. Tennyson S, Ravindran J, Eapen A, William J. Larvicidal activity of Ageratum houstonianum Mill.(Asteraceae) leaf extracts against Anopheles stephensi, Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus (Diptera: Culicidae). Asian Pac J Trop Dis. 2015 Jan 1; 5:S73-6.
  5. Conn JE, Norris DE, Donnelly MJ, Beebe NW, Burkot TR, Coulibaly MB, et al. Entomological monitoring and evaluation: diverse transmission settings of ICEMR projects will require local and regional malaria elimination strategies. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2015 Sep 2; 93(3_Suppl): 28-41.
  6. Quiñones ML, Norris DE, Conn JE, Moreno M, Burkot TR, Bugoro H, et al. Insecticide resistance in areas under investigation by the International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research: a challenge for malaria control and elimination. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2015 Sep 2; 93(3_Suppl): 69-78.
  7. Wilson ML, Krogstad DJ, Arinaitwe E, Arevalo-Herrera M, Chery L, Ferreira MU, et al. Urban malaria: understanding its epidemiology, ecology, and transmission across seven diverse ICEMR network sites. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2015 Sep 2; 93(3_Suppl): 110-23.
  8. Nagpal BN, Ghosh SK, Eapen A, Srivastava A, Sharma MC, Singh VP, et al. Control of Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus, the vectors of dengue and chikungunya, by using pheromone C21 with an insect growth regulator: results of multicentric trials from 2007-12 in India. J Vector Borne Dis. 2015 Sep 1; 52(3): 224-31.
  9. Dykes CL, Das MK, Eapen A, Batra CP, Ghosh SK, Vijayan VA, et al. Knockdown resistance (kdr) mutations in Indian Anopheles stephensi (Diptera: Culicidae) populations. J Med Entomol. 2016 Mar 1; 53(2): 315-20.
  10. Eijk AM, Ramanathapuram L, Sutton PL, Kanagaraj D, Priya GS, Ravishankaran S, et al. What is the value of reactive case detection in malaria control? A case -study in India and a systematic review. Malar J. 2016 Dec; 15(1): 67.
  11. Thomas S, Ravishankaran S, Justin JA, Asokan A, Mathai MT, Valecha N, et al. Overhead tank is the potential breeding habitat of Anopheles stephensi in an urban transmission setting of Chennai, India. Malar J. 2016 Dec 1; 15(1): 274.
  12. Hupalo DN, Luo Z, Melnikov A, Sutton PL, Rogov P, Escalante A, et al. Population genomics studies identify signatures of global dispersal and drug resistance in Plasmodium vivax.Nat Genet. 2016 Aug; 48(8): 953-8.
  13. Eijk AM, Ramanathapuram L, Sutton PL, Peddy N, Choubey S, Mohanty S, et al. The use of mosquito repellents at three sites in India with declining malaria transmission: surveys in the community and clinic. Parasit Vectors. 2016 Dec 1; 9(1): 418.
  14. Thomas S, Ravishankaran S, Justin NJ, Asokan A, Kalsingh TM, Mathai MT, et al. Does fluoride influence oviposition of Anopheles stephensi in stored water habitats in an urban setting? Malar J. 2016 Dec 1; 15(1):549.
  15. Raja V, Ravindran JK, Eapen A, William JS. Laboratory Evaluation of Crude Leaf Extracts of Cassia occidentalis Linneaus (Caesalpinaceae) as an Oviposition Determinant and Ovicide against Vector Mosquitoes Anopheles stephensi Liston, Culex quinquefasciatus Say and Aedes aegypti Linneaus (Diptera: Culicidae). J Mosq Res. 2016 Nov 29; 6(33).
  16. Uplekar S, Rao PN, Ramanathapuram L, Awasthi V, Verma K, Sutton P, et al. Characterizing antibody responses to Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum antigens in India using genome-scale protein microarrays. PLoS Negl Trop Dis.2017 Jan 24; 11(1):e0005323.
  17. Thomas S, Ravishankaran S, Justin NJ, Asokan A, Mathai MT, Valecha N, et al. Resting and feeding preferences of Anopheles stephensi in an urban setting, perennial for malaria. Malar J. 2017 Dec; 16(1): 111.
  18. Thomas S, Ravishankaran S, Asokan A, Justin NJ, Kalsingh TM, Mathai MT, et al. Socio-demographic and household attributes may not necessarily influence malaria: evidence from a cross sectional study of households in an urban slum setting of Chennai, India. Malar J.2018 Dec; 17(1): 4.
  19. Thomas S, Ravishankaran S, Justin NJ, Asokan A, Kalsingh TM, Mathai MT, et al. Microclimate variables of the ambient environment deliver the actual estimates of the extrinsic incubation period of Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparum: a study from a malaria-endemic urban setting, Chennai in India. Malar J. 2018 Dec; 17(1): 201.
  20. Natarajan R, Eapen A, Jambulingam P. Description of the adult male, larva and pupa of Topomyia (Topomyia) aureoventer (Diptera: Culicidae) in India. Zootaxa. 2019 Apr 17; 4586(2): 376-82.
  21. Feachem RG, Chen I, Akbari O, Bertozzi-Villa A, Bhatt S, Binka F, et al. Malaria eradication within a generation: ambitious, achievable, and necessary. The Lancet. 2019 Sep 21; 394(10203): 1056-112. (19) 31139-0.
  22. Eijk AM, Sutton PL, Ramanathapuram L, Sullivan SA, Kanagaraj D, Priya GS, et al. The burden of submicroscopic and asymptomatic malaria in India revealed from epidemiology studies at three varied transmission sites in India. Sci Rep. 2019 Nov 19; 9(1): 1-1.
  23. Kale S, Yadav CP, Rao PN, Shalini S, Eapen A, Srivasatava HC, et al. Antibody responses within two leading Plasmodium vivax vaccine candidate antigens in three geographically diverse malaria-endemic regions of India. Malar J. 2019 Dec 1; 18(1): 425.
  24. Natarajan R, Eapen A, Jambulingam P. Heizmannia rajagopalani (Diptera: Culicidae) in Kerala, India, a species previously misidentified as Hz. metallica (Leicester). Zootaxa. 2020 Jan 16; 4722(5): 472-8.

Contact details

ICMR-National Institute of Malaria Research
NIE Campus, 2nd Main Road
TNHB, Ayapakkam
Chennai- 600 077, Tamil Nadu, India.
Phones: 91-44-26820600, 26821700, +91 9444253592
Email: alexeapen[at]

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