Employing institution: Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Nigeria)

Host institution: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) (UK)

Project title: Development of novel in vitro culture protocols to investigate factors influencing the outcome of Plasmodium falciparum infections.

Dr Anagu is an academic pharmacist at Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), training future pharmacists. For her PhD at Keele University, she worked on establishing strategies the malaria parasite may use to cope with fever or hyperlactatemia, in vitro. She is currently interested in epigenetics of Plasmodium infection.

AREF Fellowship Research Project:

Elimination of malaria is challenging due to the complex life-cycle and genetic machinery of the infecting pathogen, Plasmodium. Dr. Anagu is currently intrigued about how the different phenotypes of Plasmodium falciparum can reveal the mechanism through which an infection with this parasite brings on several disease outcomes.

To do this, she will need to develop skills and protocols required to obtain and assess these phenotypes during this fellowship. These skills will enable her to explore how these phenotypic changes occur on exposure to host stressors, the parasite normally encounters in malaria. This can ultimately lead to the development of interventions aimed at reducing the severity or chronicity of malaria.

During her placement with Dr. Sam Wassmer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Dr. Anagu will master new research skills, conduct a preliminary study, learn to design epidemiological studies and analyse data generated therein, build her research network and ultimately develop a major project research proposal.

After her placement, she intends to enhance the malaria research capacity in Nigeria, especially at NAU. Her sponsor and mentor at NAU will support her delivery of practical workshops and short lectures for capacity building.

“Global concerted efforts to eradicate malaria have been very much improved through research and implementation of research-informed disease control strategies.”