The next Inter -College Lecture to be delivered by Professor Gordon Awandare (Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology)
Topic: Assessing the impact of decreasing malaria transmission on parasite biology, disease pathogenesis and vaccine discovery
Date: March 23, 2017
Time: 4:30 pm
Venue: ISSER Conference Hall
Chairman: Professor Daniel Kwadwo Asiedu, Provost, College of Basic and Applied Sciences
All are cordially invited.
The World Health Organization estimates that malaria still causes approximately 198 million cases annually worldwide, with 483,000 deaths, mainly in children below the age of 5 years and pregnant women. The most severe forms of the disease are caused by Plasmodium falciparum, which accounts for more than 90% of malaria cases globally. An effective malaria vaccine remains the optimal strategy for eliminating malaria. However, the use of vector control strategies such as long-lasting insecticide treated nets and inside residual spraying, combined with the use of the efficacious artemisinin combination therapy, have significantly decreased malaria transmission. Therefore, a comprehensive analysis of the impact of decreasing malaria transmission on parasite biology and disease pathogenesis is necessary to inform appropriate management of the disease, especially in children. Taking advantage of the significant differences in malaria transmission across ecological zones in Ghana as a model, we have been investigating the impact of decreasing transmission on P. falciparum biology, host immune responses, and clinical manifestations of malaria in children. The results of these investigations demonstrate that while parasite genomes are mostly similar, parasite invasion pathways vary significantly across transmission areas. In addition, patterns of clinical manifestations, immune responses and parasite tolerance change significantly with decreasing transmission intensity. Data from these investigations will be discussed, as well as research strategies for discovery of novel targets for vaccine development. In addition, progress made by the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) and its partners in training and building capacity for high quality, competitive biomedical research in Africa will be presented.
Gordon Awandare is an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology. He is also the Director of the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP). He obtained his BSc Biochemistry degree in 1998 and MPhil Biochemistry in 2002, both from the University of Ghana. He subsequently undertook his doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he graduated with a PhD degree in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology in 2007, together with the Most Outstanding Student’s award. Prof Awandare did his postdoctoral fellowship at the Malaria Vaccine Division of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland from 2007-2010.
Prof Awandare joined the Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology as a Lecturer in 2003, after working as a Principal Research Assistant at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research from 2001-2003. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2011, became Head of Department in 2013 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2015. In 2014, he led the establishment of WACCBIP, after winning one of the World Bank’s African Centres of Excellence grants.
Prof Awandare’s research focuses on the biology and pathogenesis of Plasmodium falciparum in children, including providing a better understanding of host immune responses and exploitation of parasite invasion mechanisms for vaccine development. He has 36 research publications in some of the leading international Infectious Diseases and Immunology journals, including 20 as first author or last/corresponding author.