Homing Endonuclease Genes Consortium, an international research group led by Imperial College London, is poised to hand over a six-figure sum to an agency to help it promote its work following a five-way pitch process.
This will include stakeholder engagement, with the winning agency understood to have a specific focus on a number of African countries.
The not-for-profit group, thought to include Cambridge University and the University of Washington, focuses on altering the genes of mosquitoes.
The comms hunt follows a warning last year from researcher group Malaria Atlas Trust that the US$2.55bn (£1.69bn) spent in 2010 was less than half the estimated amount needed to control the disease globally. It is estimated that malaria kills 1.2 million people a year.
A well-placed agency source said that alongside raising awareness, a particular focus of the brief would be on helping fundraising.
They added: ‘It will involve a wide number of international stakeholders, with comms tailored to an individual country’s needs. However, expertise in Africa will be important, with organisations in Kenya, Burkina Faso, Mali and Uganda a specific target.’
The research network is understood to receive financial backing from the Global Health Initiative, which was launched in 2009 to strengthen the US government’s existing international health programmes.
Simon Levey, research media officer at Imperial College London’s comms and public affairs division, confirmed the body had met agencies about an ‘international project with a wide range of stakeholders’.