Fatou Joof joined the MRCG at LSHTM in 2011 as a Trainee Scientific Officer

She is studying the molecular mechanisms by which human genetic variations in RBC surface proteins impact Malaria Pathogenesis

She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Mohamed V in Rabat Morocco. She was awarded a scholarship by the MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM to do an MSc course in Molecular Parasitology and Vector Biology at the Universities of Keele, Manchester and Salford in the UK. Her thesis was based on estimating the rate of kill of novel antimalarial drugs.

After completing her MSc studies, Fatou worked as a Higher Scientific Officer in the malaria lab platform supporting many projects, before receiving an award from the unit to do a PhD concentrating on ‘Genetic polymorphisms of red blood cells and malaria pathophysiology’.

Fatou Joof – PhD Student

Fatou’s work is based at the Keneba field station where our scientists developed a biobank of samples from the residents of West Kiang which is one of the largest of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa. This provides a very rich resource for translational research such as her project.

Over the past year, after extensive literature review, bioinformatics and molecular analysis, she found that some red blood cell polymorphisms identified by recent Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) to protect against malaria, are present at relatively high frequencies in the residents of West Kiang and are in strong linkage disequilibrium.

Having identified the relevant polymorphisms, genotypic groups and subjects, she will further determine the functional variant of this gene following laboratory analysis. Additional analysis will permit her to identify the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which the protective effect against malaria might be mediated.

Fatou is leading this project under the supervision of Dr Carla Cerami and Professor Andrew Prentice. The study provides an opportunity to understand the evolutionary genetic race between humans and the malaria parasite in a population in an endemic area.