Target Malaria’s dossier preparation in Burkina Faso

April 9, 2024 |

Imperial College is a public research university ranked #8 in The Times Higher Education World University Ranking, and #6 in the QS World University Ranking. Hosted at Imperial’s Department of Life Sciences, Target Malaria is a not-for-profit research consortium whose aim is to contribute to a world free of malaria.

Most of their work centers around the development of genetic technologies to reduce the population of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. This is where 96% of malaria deaths occur (80% among children), so a reduction of transmission in this area would have a huge impact!


After 4 years of working with us, Imperial College and Target Malaria approached Conversis in 2023 with an exciting challenge. As part of their work in Burkina Faso, they needed a very large, very technical dossier translated into French to explain in detail their project, its findings so far, and the recommended next steps. This was with a view to obtaining regulatory approval to release genetically modified (non gene drive) mosquitoes in a specific, controlled area. No one else was doing this kind of work at this level; the content dealt with genetic science, specialized lab and on-the-ground processes, and all within a highly specific subject population. It was a big project, and it was urgent – a strict deadline had to be met in order to achieve a critical milestone in Target Malaria’s journey.

Having discussed the aims and particular challenges of the project in detail with the client, we made the decision to work with 1 specific linguist only. This linguist would complete the entire project and any related work. This is a very unusual approach for Conversis. Although we aim to work with consistent teams on client projects, as a general rule, we would never limit this to just 1, given the availability and other risks this raises. Plus, we have developed a range of tools over the years to ensure consistency across teams and projects, even where the linguist changes. However, in this particular case, 1 linguist had worked on all previous Target Malaria projects, and was therefore the linguistic expert on their work. This work included information relating to new gene editing technologies, the lifecycles and mating habits of mosquitoes, and calculations relating to controlled zoning, all using specific language which had been defined over time in collaboration with the client. Given the highly niche nature of the content, we determined there would be too much of a learning curve for new linguists within the timeline available, and that too many checks would be required across the work of multiple linguists.

Obviously, this choice created other issues, primarily in terms of the urgency required for delivery. Working with a single linguist meant we didn’t have the option of splitting content to get it done more quickly, so we needed to find other creative solutions…


Our first step was to establish whether any particular parts of the project were of a higher priority than others, and to put together a delivery plan. We would stagger deliveries based on priority, giving space for the client review and feedback loop to happen in real time, rather than pushing that work out to the end of the project timeline. We then added every document and reference file we already had for this client, and any new ones they could provide, to LiveDocs. This meant the linguist had instant, centralized access to every reference they could possibly need during translation – previously approved translations, monolingual files, and other content that couldn’t be added to a translation memory, such as video, audio and images. This saved them time referencing across resources, allowing them to focus completely in one place and on the job at hand. We established a detailed query process as, given the nature of the content, even the selected linguist had questions for the researchers, and this worked really well throughout. For the most part, the linguist’s instinct was correct and confirmed by the researchers. But this process did pick up a few things that otherwise might have slipped through. Plus, our dedicated QA team added extra checks against previous deliveries, for an additional layer of assurance.


We managed to get files delivered, queries resolved, QA completed, and everything finalized and approved by the client’s deadline. This, in turn, allowed them to meet their critical milestone, and move the project on to the next phase. Given the scale of the issue Target Malaria are trying to solve, there is still a long way to go with this project. But Conversis are very proud to have been able to help them take a significant step closer to their goal. And we look forward to continuing to support them along the important journey yet to come; the journey towards a world without malaria.

“It was a pleasure working with Megan and the rest of the Conversis team. The team was always approachable throughout the entire project and worked effectively so that we were able to meet our tight deadline. The linguist’s understanding of the biology and technical aspects of the project resulted in the production of a highly competent translated document. We can therefore only recommend their work.”

Silke Fuchs, Regulatory Scientist at Target Malaria