7 January 2019
Dr. Darboe recently completed her PhD in Clinical Sciences and Immunology at the University of Cape Town with top marks.
Fatoumatta’s PhD thesis looked at transcriptomic signatures in patients co-infected with TB and HIV. Her results showed that TB disease in HIV-infected persons could be diagnosed using a small gene signature which could be used as screening tools in basic health clinics. In addition, these signatures could be used to determine a person’s risk of getting TB and allow for the provision of preventive therapy and is currently being tested in South Africa.
Fatoumatta completed her undergraduate studies in Biology and Chemistry at the University of The Gambia in 2009 and joined the MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM initially as an intern in the hepatitis group and then as a Lab Technician in the Infant Immunology Laboratory in 2010. She worked on several clinical trials including a HIV and malaria vaccine trial to eventually become a Scientific Officer. In 2014, Fatoumatta completed her MPhil through the Open University on non-specific effects of BCG vaccination on the immune response to other childhood vaccines in Gambian children (supervisors Associate Professor Jayne Sutherland and Professor Katie Flanagan). The results from this study have been published in 2017 in Frontiers of Immunology. Fatoumatta was subsequently accepted for a PhD at the South African Tuberculosis Vaccines Initiative (SATVI) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), supervised by Professor Tom Scriba.
Dr. Darboe’s PhD work has resulted in one publication in the journal Tuberculosis (Darboe et al., 2018) with two more in preparation. Fatoumatta has also worked on several other projects resulting in five peer-reviewed publications including one in Nature Communications (Fletcher et al., 2016) and one in Nature (Chowdry et al. 2018). In 2017, she was a recipient of the prestigious Margaret McNamara Educational Grant from the World Bank for the importance and relevance of these studies to the health and well-being of HIV-infected persons. She has presented her work at several conferences and was one of the few African scientists invited for an oral presentation at the Keystone Symposia joint conference on TB and HIV held in Whistler, Canada in April 2018.
Since completing her PhD work, Fatoumatta has joined the TB Immunology Laboratory at MRCG at LSHTM as a postdoctoral researcher working on the TB Sequel project aiming to identify diagnostic and prognostic markers of TB disease and response to therapy.