Employing institution: Nigerian Institute Medical Research

Host institution: Medical Research Council Unit, The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (MRCG-LSHTM).

Project title: Developing capacity in malaria genomics, bioinformatics and in-vitro assays to undertake and lead research in antimalarial resistance.

Dr Ajibaye has a background in biochemistry, with interest in molecular parasitology and immunogenomics. He studied for his PhD at the University of Lagos, Nigeria and trained in molecular biology and genomics at the West African Center for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogen, University of Ghana and the Medical Research Council, the Gambia. He currently works at the Nigerian institute of Medical research (NIMR). His research is focused on unveiling the host-pathogen Omic factors and mechanisms underlining resistance to Artemisinin-based therapies among Plasmodium falciparum populations in African.

AREF Fellowship Research Project:

Globally, malaria accounted for up to 229 million clinical cases and 409,000 deaths in 2019. More than 95% of this burden is in Africa, with 25% from Nigeria. A major challenge to malaria elimination is the increasing spread of antimalarial drug resistant parasites especially to artemisinins (ART) by Plasmodium falciparum.

To further understand mechanisms of antimalarial drug resistance, this study will combine and analyse genomic data of hosts and parasites in Nigeria. Data generated will be published, made open-access and shared with malaria elimination programs to inform drug policy.

On his placement at the MRCG-LSHTM, Dr Ajibaye will join the Malaria Population Biology group led by Dr Alfred Amambua Ngwa. He will acquire hands-on skills in parasite culture, Bioinformatics, RNA- and DNA-seq, and generate preliminary omics data. His home institution (NIMR) will provide laboratory space for establishing a functional Plasmodium parasite culture.

“Health Research Capacity development via technology transfer remains the reliable path to a disease-free world.”