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Dr Isabella Oyier

Dr Isabella Oyier

Podcast interview

Malaria and immunity

Understanding mutations in the malaria parasite gives us an insight how it escapes the immune system, as well as the mechanisms of drug resistance. This molecular work also helps find better candidates for malaria vaccines. In the long term, surveillance of markers of resistance informs national drug policy.

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Isabella Oyier

Principal Investigator

I am a Senior Scientist and Vice Chairperson of the Biosciences Department at the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP). I am a molecular cell biologist by training with a focus on infectious diseases.

My research focus is on malaria, primarily molecular epidemiology of the malaria parasite. I am interested in understanding natural selection in the parasite, by determining the temporal and spatial distribution of merozoite antigen alleles and the impact of the genetic variation in these antigens on erythrocyte invasion and immune evasion using molecular cell biology tools. This work is currently being funded through a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Fellowship.

Additionally, I am working on understanding how the distribution of merozoite antigen alleles change in asymptomatic malaria infections as individuals transition from having asymptomatic parasitemia to their first febrile infection and the impact this has on immunity. These studies are PhD projects funded by the IDeAL (hosted at KWTRP) and DELGEME (hosted at the University of Science, Technic and Technologies of Bamako), Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) DELTAS Africa Programme.

I also have an interest in determining the temporal distribution of antimalarial resistance markers and I work with the National Malaria Control Programme to conduct the molecular analyses in samples obtained from therapeutic efficacy trials.

I am also a Visiting Lecturer at the Centre for Biotechnology and Bioinformatics (CEBIB), University of Nairobi, where I have been involved in teaching and currently supervising MSc students.