Epidemiology and Human Genetics
Area of Doctoral Study: Epidemiology and Human Genetics
Undergraduate Institute: University of Maryland, College Park
Research Advisor: Christopher V. Plowe, M.D., M.P.H.
Current Position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Maryland, School of Medicine, Division of Geographic Medicine, Institute for Global Health
Description of Research
The Plowe lab concentrates on two areas of malaria research; the underlying causes and evolution of drug resistance, and vaccine development. The focus of my research is to understand how diversity within the parasite surface antigen apical membrane antigen 1 (AMA1) affects the efficacy of the naturally acquired humoral response to malaria infection. I designed a protein microarray populated with 263 different field-derived E. coli-cloned variants of AMA1 to assay natural versus vaccine induced immune responses in the hopes of defining a population of protective antibodies that can be used to inform the next generation of malaria vaccines. After validation of the technology, I plan to conduct a prospective molecular epidemiological study in a pediatric cohort at our field site in Bandiagara, Mali. My goal is to understand the dynamics of malaria antigen antibody acquisition, cross-reactivity to diverse variants, and protection from clinical manifestations of the disease. I also aim to describe novel differences in naturally acquired immunity and vaccine induced immunity through the development of functional antibodies, in hopes to define a correlate for clinical protection from malaria disease.