Oludare A Odumade, PhD (2011- in immunology as part of the Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology graduate program), currently pursuing a medical school degree at the University of Minnesota Medical School under the medical scientist training program.
Congratulations to Dare Odumade, recipient of a Doris Duke Charitable Foundation fellowship. Read on for a description of her work, in her own words.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately half of the world's population is at risk of malaria. Of the 4 Plasmodium parasites that cause malaria, Plasmodium falciparum is the most common and most deadly.
Transmission of malaria occurs via the bite of Anopheles mosquitoes and is dependent especially on environmental climate, prevention via vector control and antimalarial drugs, and human immunity.
Even after infection, only partial immunity develops, and this, too, is often lost when individuals leave malaria endemic areas for prolonged periods. While there are attempts to develop vaccines, none are currently approved for use in the general population.
My goal is to compare the basic immunological repertoire in developing (specifically Kenya and Uganda) and western countries (i.e. America), as underlying differences can affect an individual response to Plasmodium falciparum infection and subsequent immunity.
Specifically, I would like to determine the role of antigen-specific lymphocytes in the immunity to Plasmodium falciparum infection. The proposal will examine the B cell frequency and phenotypes in individuals from malaria endemic versus non-endemic areas, with and without history of known clinical infection.
Understanding what aspects differ is key to sound design of studies to protect both children and adults against malaria-related morbidity and mortality.