Cyrus Ayieko, MSc
Nominated From: University of Minnesota
Research Site: Kenya
Project: Malaria Immunology
Primary Mentor: Professor Chandy C. John (University of Minnesota)
The Effect of Reduced Malaria Infection on Humoral Immune Memory
Repeated exposure to malaria leads to gradual acquisition of immunity, which requires persistent Plasmodium parasitemia to maintain. However, individuals constantly exposed to malaria experience increased susceptibility to secondary infections and reduced efficacy of vaccines. This suggests that chronic parasitemia may play a role in suppressing cellular and humoral immune responses to malaria-specific and non-specific antigens. Reduction of malaria transmission should, therefore, boost protective immune responses to common vaccine antigens. We hypothesize that children living in the highland of western Kenya that has had very low malaria transmission over the last 3 years will have more frequent and robust immune responses to common vaccine antigens compared to their counterparts from an adjacent malaria endemic region.
The study will show potential impact of malaria control measures on immune responses to potential malaria vaccines as well as to common vaccine antigens.
Advice for Potential Applicants
Never give up on the first trial. The fellowship is highly competitive yet, attainable.