'The perfect tool for the job' - Discovery 5 is lynchpin for anti-Malaria research

Land Rover may have ditched plans for a hardcore off-road ‘SVX’ Discovery 5, but its Special Vehicle Operations division still adapts the luxurious workhorse for heavy duty applications.

One D5 to receive bespoke treatment – turning it into a cutting-edge genetic sequencing laboratory – has now completed an intense two months in sub-Saharan Africa. The Mobile Malaria Project expedition travelled 4567 miles from Walvis Bay in Namibia, through Windhoek to Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya, often on unmetalled roads to access remote communities.

On board were three Oxford University scientists, recipients of the 2018 Land Rover Bursary. Awarded by the Royal Geographical Society in partnership with Land Rover, the annual grant’s winners receive £30,000 of funding plus a Land Rover to make their project happen.

The project’s mission has been to fight malaria by carrying out genetic sequencing of mosquitos in the field. As a mobile lab and research station, the Land Rover Discovery carried twin awnings, split charge electrics with a fridge/freezer for scientific supplies, recovery gear, roof rack, Laser lamps for night driving and Goodyear Wrangler tyres. Key to the research was state-of-the-art genetic sequencing machines that fit in the palm of the hand.

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The expedition not only carried out important research but also gave African scientists valuable exposure to the latest technology.

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.
— Project leader, Dr George Busby

The 2019 Land Rover Bursary winners will travel through East Africa, also in a modified Discovery 5, researching pest management in farming.

Applications open on 1 September for the 2020 Land Rover Bursary, which will be the first to use the next Defender. Find more about the bursary here.