Nelly’s first life as a biotechnology researcher engaged her for more than 25 years in an effort to develop effective vaccines against malaria. After a PhD in chemistry from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Post-Doc at NIH she worked on Malaria Vaccines at Walter Reed Army institute of Research and Science Application International Corporation (SAIC). These efforts resulted in the successful advancement of multiple vaccine candidates from basic research to clinical trials, including active participation in the research of the most advanced malaria vaccine RTS’S (Mosquirix™) under the leadership of then Col Ripley Ballou, director of the immunology department at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
A second life in fashion, creating her own designs, might seem far apart from the first, but she did not lose the passion for the technology and investigated revolutionary ‘techno’ fabrics which used nano-chemistry. These fabrics promise to infuse new functions into our fashion in surprising ways.
Watching the very dramatic 2013 British-American TV film Mary and Martha, starring Hillary Swank and Brenda Blethyn, was the spark and impetus to combine her two passions, chemistry and fashion, in a new tack against malaria. The film is based on the story of two western mothers who lost their sons to malaria, but who rose from the depths of their own despair to save the lives of countless children with simple bed nets and massive determination.
Just imagine what we can do with high technology!
The Martha character was inspired by the real story of a British woman, Jo Yirrell, whose son Harry died from malaria while volunteering in Ghana. Nelly felt heartbroken for those parents who had to watch helplessly as their children lay dying from a preventable disease in overcrowded hospitals in Africa. She was tearing and choking after viewing the film and the choice combining science and fashion became a purpose in saving lives.
Our great hope that the Anti Malaria Fashion Foundation will be able to exploit the promise of nano-technology to put the final nail in the coffin of the malaria parasite. Insecticide impregnated bed nets have already proven their worth in saving lives of people in the malaria endemic areas, but emerging mosquito resistance and the residual transmission threaten the future of the global malaria control.
In the drive to malaria elimination, Anti Malaria Fashion Foundation is closing the critical gap in the vector control with creating “Outside the Net” Long Lasting Personal Protection against mosquito bites.