Employing institution: Foundation Pour La Recherche Scientifique (Foundation for Scientific Research), Benin
Host institution: Institute of Tropical Medicine, Tübingen, Germany ITM
Project title: Genetic diversity and drug resistance surveillance of Plasmodium malariae among the asymptomatic population in Southern Benin
Dr Romuald Agonhossou is a malaria parasitologist with a PhD in molecular parasitology. His research interests are on studying a neglected malaria parasite, Plasmodium malariae and its genetic interaction with Plasmodium falciparum. He is currently completing a post-doctoral fellowship at FORS in Benin, where his project focuses on understanding the vector-parasite’s interaction that defines the transmission of Plasmodium malariae in Africa. He investigates the genes involved in the refractoriness or susceptibility in the transmission of this parasite in its vector.
Malaria remains a public health problem in Africa. However, there is enough indication that control strategies are oriented towards Plasmodium falciparum. There is very little information on non-falciparum species and mixed infections. In Benin, it has been shown that the prevalence of Plasmodium malariae which is one of the non-falciparum species is increasing. One of the reasons for this increase could be linked to its resistance to antimalarial drugs.
Dr Agonhossou will use his AREF fellowship to investigate the resistance of the plasmodium malariae parasite to antimalarial drugs and its genetic interaction with Plasmodium falciparum. One of his fellowship goals is to gather enough skills and results so that he can extend his future research projects to other non-falciparum parasites to investigate their efficacy with available antimalarial drugs. He will create a country-wide profile of drug resistance markers as a measure of antimalarial drug performance to guide their current and future use for effective case management and accelerate ongoing malaria elimination strategies.
“Malaria is not only caused by Plasmodium falciparum; we may be surprised by the impact of non-falciparum in the transmission of malaria if no attention is paid to them.”
Romuald will be placed at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Tübingen, Germany (ITM) under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Velavan TP. He will develop skills in genomics and bioinformatics and learn best practices in international research project management. Dr Agonhossou’s home institution hosts a young researchers centre, which is currently in the process of setting up different modern machines for the centre. By interacting with some of the same tools during his fellowship, he will train other early-career and play a key role in establishing the centre.