ID Faculty to Investigate Chagas Disease, Malaria with Junior Faculty Development Awards

Two faculty within the Division of Infectious Diseases have received Junior Faculty Development Awards from UNC’s Committee on Faculty Research and Study Leaves. Natalie Bowman, MD, MPH, assistant professor of Medicine, and Jessica Lin, MD, assistant professor of Medicine, each received $7,500 to be used for their individual research projects in 2016.

ID Faculty to Investigate Chagas Disease, Malaria with Junior Faculty Development Awards click to enlarge Natalie Bowman, MD, MPH and Jessica Lin, MD

Bowman says she plans to use the money to examine the microbiome of Triatoma infestans, the most important vector of Chagas disease in South America, using next generation sequencing technology. 

"I am going to examine associations of Trypanosoma cruzi (the parasite that causes Chagas disease), blood meal, insect stage, and other factors on the makeup and diversity of the microbiome,“ Bowman says. "Most of the money will cover sequencing costs, with a little for travel to Peru (the study site) to collect bug poop!” The parasite that causes Chagas disease lives in the feces of certain bugs in Central and South America.

Lin says she will use her award to validate a promising new molecular marker for chloroquine-resistant vivax malaria in a set of Indonesian isolates. 

"Drug resistant vivax malaria is thought to be spreading from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia to Southeast Asia, but the true scope of resistance is unknown,” Lin says. "The funds will be seed money to genotype a set of resistant isolates collected from patients in Indonesia who failed chloroquine treatment. The future goal would be to do a broad molecular survey of Southeast Asia and use deep sequencing techniques to detect emerging resistance before clinical treatment failures arise."

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