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The origins of the MalariaGEN project were in human genetics. In 2005, clinical and epidemiological researchers from malaria-endemic countries, and others with expertise and technological resources in high-throughput analysis of genetic variation, came together to form the MalariaGEN Consortium.

The foundations for a data-sharing network in the genomic epidemiology of malaria were developed in 2003-5 with grants from the Medical Research Council and the Gates Foundation. MalariaGEN was formally established in 2005 as part of the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, with joint funding from the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation through the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. The administration of MalariaGEN is primarily funded by the Wellcome Trust, however MalariaGEN brings investigators together from around the world that are funded from a range of sources.

There are many practical and ethical challenges involved in sharing data across a global network comprising investigators and institutions with great disparities in funding and infrastructure. The MalariaGEN community has been working to develop transparent procedures for ethics and governance. We have a governance committee and an independent data access committee, and network policies for data sharing and data access.