When I volunteered several years ago as a physician in a small hospital in West Africa, one of the most frustrating and frightening diseases I saw was sleeping sickness. Now, an investigator supported by the NIH Common Fund aims to figure out how this disease pathogen manages to evade the human immune system.
Monica Mugnier’s fascination with parasites started in college when she picked up the book Parasite Rex, a riveting, firsthand account of how “sneaky” parasites can be. The next year, while studying abroad in England, Mugnier met a researcher who had studied one of the most devious of parasites—a protozoan, spread by blood-sucking tsetse flies, that causes sleeping sickness in humans and livestock across sub-Saharan Africa.
Tags: 2016 NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, Africa, African trypanosomiasis, antigenic variation, CRISPR/Cas9, fat, gene editing, genomics, glycoprotein, immunology, neglected tropical diseases, parasite, protozoan, skin, sleeping sickness, sub-Saharan Africa, T. brucei, Trypanosoma brucei, tsetse fly, variant surface glycoprotein, VSG