By Pranay Malempati | Sports Writer
Baylor psychology professor Dr. Sara Dolan, was part of a panel from the National Academies of Sciences earlier this year that presented a report to the U.S. Congress about anti-malarial drugs. Specifically, the panel presented their findings after conducting research about the long-term health effects of anti-malarial drugs.
Brown University epidemiology professor, Dr. David Savitz, chair of the committee Dolan served on, said that the research was centered around the use of anti-malarial drugs in military deployments in relation to a range of psychiatric disorders including PTSD.
Savitz said that Dolan was uniquely equipped to conduct this research.
We all have roles to play on these committees,” Savitz said. “But Sara had an unusual combination of having the first-hand clinical insights into caring for veterans and others who were affected in this way, but also being in real command of the research issues and the scientific evidence. Some of us have more of the scientific area, some of us have more of the clinical area, but [Dolan] had a central role in the intersection between those.”
Dolan said that her time conducting and presenting this research was “definitely a very interesting, intellectually stimulating experience.” She said that a major takeaway from their research was that malaria is still a very common problem across the world.
“Number one, malaria is still a problem across the world and malaria can be fatal,” Dolan said. “So we recommend that people work with their healthcare providers to take an antimalarial that is effective and has the fewest side effects for their own personal medical history.”
Dolan said that after extensively studying literature on anti-malarial drugs, the committee found that more studies need to be conducted on the long-term effects of anti-malarial drugs.
“We didn’t find a lot of strong evidence for long-term health effects of anti-malarials, but we found some signals in the literature that there may be some long-term side effects,” Dolan said. “We talked a lot about what kinds of research could be done [in the future] to better flesh that out.”
Baylor Psychology Department Chair, Charles Weaver, said that Dolan’s presence on the panel is an indication of both Dolan’s qualities as well as the quality of the professors Baylor hires.
“I think it’s a testament to the quality of the work that she does and to the kind of faculty that Baylor has in place,” Weaver said. “She is exceptional at what she does, her scientific judgment is beyond question, and that’s why she was asked to testify. . . We’re fortunate to have somebody of her caliber.”
Dolan said that Congress was very interested in the panel’s findings.
“[Congress was] very receptive in general,” Dolan said. “This is an issue that is very concerning to veterans’ health. Therefore, people in Congress who are especially focused on veteran’s health issues were very receptive to this report and very grateful to the committee and the National Academies for spending so much time and effort on the study.”