Roraima, Brazil – Heather Kudyba (2018):
Summary of the project:
The current method for diagnosing malaria infection is microscopy of a Giemsa stained thick blood smear. This technique can be subjective depending on the quality of the smears, the technicians training, the levels of parasitemia in the blood, and if the infection is a mix of different Plasmodium species. The treatments for different species of Plasmodium vary, and thus proper diagnostics are crucial. Additionally, the ability to detect low-levels of infection is crucial to the elimination of this parasitic disease. I visited three municipalities in Roraima, Brazil over a 6 week period (Boa Vista, Pacaraima, and Rorainópolis). We visited various health posts and clinics to collect blood from patients to test the practicality and effectiveness of a molecular-based diagnostic, Malachite Green Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (MG-LAMP). We compared the results to the current diagnostic for malaria, microscopy, as well as another molecular-based diagnostic (that is highly sensitive, but requires more equipment, etc to perform) Photo-induced Electron Transfer PCR (PET-PCR).
Who did you work with during your capstone?
Dr. Joseli Oliveira-Ferreira (Institute Oswaldo Cruz- Fiocruz, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil)
Jaime Louzada (Federal University of Roraima, Roraima, Brazil)
Dr. Naomi W. Lucchi (Malaria Branch and Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA)
Dragan Ljolje (Atlanta Research and Education Foundation, Atlanta, USA)
What were some problems/issues you faced in your capstone research (if nothing, then don’t answer this)?
Working in a resource-poor environment is difficult and you often have to improvise and make do with limited equipment. It made the work a little harder but also gave me perspective on how lucky we are to work in well-equipped labs, such as the ones in the CTEGD.
What was the outcome of your capstone research?
Present poster at ASTMH and Publication in Malaria journal
How did the capstone help your personal and professional growth?
This experience opened many doors for me. I was able to meet and work with new people at the CDC and in Brazil. I made connections that I still maintain to this day. Working in an endemic area was eye-opening. It is one thing to work in the lab on malaria research, it is a completely other thing to see the devastating consequences of malaria infection in the world. This experience gave my work new meaning and purpose.