Site and Background:
The team at UCAD/Le Dantec has significant experience in designing and testing malaria diagnostics, in conducting drug resistance studies, and the lab serves as a Reference Laboratory on Parasite Disease Diagnostics particularly for Malaria in Senegal, as part of the partnership between USAID/CDC PMI, UCAD and Ministry of Health. The many strengths of the team include carrying out antimalarial drug resistance projects, including drug treatment efficacy studies, ex vivo assay development and validation, designing new research techniques to characterize genetic diversity of parasites and to characterize both known and novel drug resistance markers. The group has contributed to designing new tools to enhance molecular malaria research in the field. Additionally, the lab is a Regional Training Center for the International Center for Excellence in Malaria Research – West Africa (ICEMR-WAF) where scientists from Senegal, Mali, and The Gambia frequently train in the laboratory. Training is cornerstone of the team and multiple training initiatives funded through Fogarty, BMGF, and ACEGID in collaboration with Harvard, CDC, the Broad Institute, and the NIH have contributed to the training of the students at the site.
One of the particular areas of emphasis and expertise lies at the cross section of malaria epidemiology and ecology. There is great infrastructure and exceptional expertise at Le Dantec Hospital in many molecular diagnostic, genetic, genomic, and immunological techniques needed to understand the host-parasite interactions that determine immunity and transmission, and more specifically, how parasite diversity affects the parasite persistence in Senegal. The lab is the National Reference Center for Genomics in Infectious Diseases helping to implement genomic research and surveillance systems for viruses, parasites, and other emerging pathogens. These programs are currently implemented in collaboration with the Senegal Ministry Health (nationwide surveillance efforts focused on malaria), ACEGID (African Center of Excellence for Genomic on Infectious Diseases), H3 Africa, USAID/PREDICT, and the CDC Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). The team leader is the General Secretary of the CEA-SAMEF (African Center of Excellence for the Health of Women and Child, based at UCAD) and has a long history of research and training Masters, Pharmacy, and PhD students in Africa. The research conducted at UCAD/Le Dantec advances the local public health needs in trying to ensure that all have access to effective malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The collaborative research of the team fills a critical need communicating research findings to the Ministry of Health to enhance the impact of basic research on malaria policy.
Ongoing Projects and Potential Areas for Mentored Research:
- Malaria diagnostics
- Longitudinal studies of immunity
- Genetic Diversity
- Virulence gene expression
- Ex vivo phenotypic assays for virulence, drug resistance, and immune neutralization