This is an application for a F32 fellowship for Dr. Elizabeth Hemming-Schroeder, a Postdoctoral Scholar proposing to train under the sponsorship of Dr. James Kazura, Professor of Global Health at Case Western Reserve University. The overall goal for this fellowship is for Dr. Hemming-Schroeder to cultivate her skills to become a future independent investigator in the field of malaria epidemiology. Specifically, this F32 fellowship will provide Dr. Hemming-Schroeder with the necessary support to achieve the following goals: 1) Design epidemiological studies to test hypotheses related to malaria transmission and control; 2) Analyze large sets of genomic data using bioinformatics; 3) Use immunological techniques to study malaria epidemiology; and 4) Develop leadership and professional skills to lead an interdisciplinary research team. To combat food insecurity and meet increasing water demands under rapid population growth, water resource development projects are anticipated to rapidly increase in sub-Saharan Africa. The impacts that these water resource development projects will have on malaria risk remain poorly understood. This project will focus on assessing the impacts of shifting agricultural practices and human migration resulting from irrigation projects on parasite population genetics and malaria epidemiology. In newly irrigated and non-irrigated areas of Kenya, Dr. Hemming-Schroeder will monitor land use and population movement and use cross-sectional surveys, a longitudinal cohort study, and passive case surveillance to monitor changes in parasite populations in local residents and migrant laborers and malaria incidence in the areas over time.
In Aim 1, Dr. Hemming-Schroeder will examine the impacts of shifting agricultural practices on parasite population genetics and diversity through genotyping of microsatellite and drug resistance markers, as well as amplicon next-generation sequencing and bioinformatic analysis.
In Aim 2, Dr. Hemming-Schroeder will determine the impacts of shifting agricultural practices on symptomatic disease burden, parasite exposure history, and infection complexity through passive case detection in local health centers and hospitals, serology for biomarkers of parasite exposure, bioinformatic analysis of deep sequences, and mixed effects model analysis. This research will help to improve our understanding of the impacts water resource development projects have on malaria epidemiology and population genetics, which is critically important to being able to maintain effective malaria control programs. Data from this research will serve as preliminary data for a K22 or K99 application in the final year of the F32 fellowship. Through the proposed research activities and training plan, Dr. Hemming-Schroeder will gain skills in epidemiology, bioinformatics, immunology, and leadership and professional skills, which will help her to gain independent funding and prepare her for a faculty career leading an interdisciplinary research program.
Malaria remains a major public health problem in Africa, while millions of residents in sub-Saharan Africa also suffer from food insecurity and malnutrition. To combat food insecurity, with the help of international funding, sub-Saharan African countries are experiencing an expansion of irrigated agricultural farms over the past decade. Better understanding the impacts that shifting agricultural practices have on malaria risk and epidemiology are critical for deploying targeted and effective malaria control activities.