ASTMH Annual Meeting 2020

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ASTMH Annual Meeting 2020 Blog / All Blog Posts / Malaria Genomics- A Family Matter

Malaria Genomics- A Family Matter

By: Rebecca E.k. Mandt, Ba, Harvard T.h. Chan School of Public Health

Photo: Global Health 11.17.20

You may have attended a family get-together that made you wonder— how am I actually related to these people? This is the same question that presenters in the American Committee of Molecular, Cellular and Immunoparasitology (ACMCIP)’s Malaria- Genomics session asked about populations of malaria parasites. The session included talks by Dr. Ankit Dwivedi (University of Maryland School of Medicine), Dr. Stephen Schaffner (Broad Institute), Dr. Alfredo Mayor (Barcelona Institute for Global Health), Nicholas Brazeau (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill,) Dr. Bing Guo (University of Maryland School of Medicine), Dr. Kara Moser (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), and Dr. Johnathan Parr (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill). 

All these researchers used genetic information to characterize the relatedness of parasites—(i.e. are they cousins, half siblings, identical clones, or completely unrelated?) By assessing patterns of relatedness over space and time, they were able to answer various questions critical to public health. For example, is malaria transmission increasing or decreasing over a certain period? What is the impact of interventions such as mass drug administration? To what extent is there migration of parasites across a particular region and are there instances of parasites being imported from other regions? While the studies featured in the session focused on different geographic areas across the globe, all of the researchers expressed hope that genomic analysis can provide important insights into what public health interventions will be most effective at decreasing the spread of malaria, thus reducing the burden of morbidity and death caused by this challenging disease.  

More Information: https://www.abstractsonline.com/pp8/#!/9181/session/302     

Rebecca Mandt is a 6th year graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Dyann Wirth at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. TropMed is one of her favorite events of the year.

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