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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

Isabella Oyier is the Head of the Biosciences Department at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Program (KWTRP), an Associate Professor, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford a Calestous Juma Fellow, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a Global Research Fellow at Reuben College, University of Oxford. Her research work focuses on integrating malaria molecular epidemiology into routine surveillance in Kenya. A project that partners with the Division of National Malaria Programme to implement malaria molecular surveillance activities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she led the COVID-19 testing for the Coastal region.  KWTRP is a regional COVID-19 genomic surveillance reference lab for Africa CDC and WHO-Afro and she leads and coordinates this effort. In addition, she is coordinating the scale up COVID-19 immunological surveillance in the East Africa region, to determine genetic variants with immune escape potential.

Her research interests are primarily in Plasmodium falciparum malaria molecular epidemiology, focusing on the spatial and temporal use of molecular tools to:

  • examine genetic variation in merozoite antigens that are potential candidates for blood stage vaccines and its impact on naturally acquired immunity;
  • define complexity of infection while examining the impact of interventions or changes in malaria epidemiology;
  • distinguish persistent infections and reinfections in both therapeutic efficacy studies and in longitudinal follow up of asymptomatic individuals;
  • monitor drug and diagnostic resistance molecular markers.