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Dr Linda Anagu (2021)

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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 intrigued by how the different phenotypes of Plasmodium falciparum can reveal the mechanism through which an infection with this parasite brings on several disease outcomes.

This fellowship will help Dr. Anagu develop skills and protocols required to obtain and assess plasmodium phenotypes. 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.

Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF) Research Development Fellowship has enabled me to progress in my aspiration of becoming an independence research leader. I have been able to explore my research ideas using the resources provided by AREF in collaboration with the London School of hygiene and Tropical Medicine, my fellowship placement host institution and Nnamdi Azikiwe University, my employer. I have acquired more research skills, knowledge and network that will be useful in providing a solution to the African and Nigerian malaria problem and other health challenges plaguing the continent and my country.  This fits nicely with my career development pathway onto becoming an independent discovery research scientist with a focus on providing a solution to the malaria persistency, especially in Africa.

During her fellowship, Dr. Anagu have demonstrated the ability to handle a research project throughout its life cycle and have been able to generate preliminary data. These experiences have empowered her to leverage on her skills in securing bigger grants from funders like the NIH, Welcome Trust and the Science for Africa Foundation. As part of her fellowship, Dr. Anagu also participated in a grant writing workshop organized by AREF and the acquired knowledge on strategy and practical writing skillsneeded to secure bigger grant funding. Dr. Anagu worked with Dr. Sam Wassmer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for her placement.

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