Posts Tagged: Shirley Luckhart
Research news coming out of the University of California, Davis and the University of Arizona labs recently drew international attention; the scientists have genetically engineered mosquitoes that are resistant to malaria parasites.
Now one of the co-authors has received a coveted research fellowship from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
who studies with noted malaria researcher and major professor Shirley Luckhart (left), has received a NIH research fellowship aimed to promote diversity in health-related research.
Luckhart is an associate professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, UC Davis School of Medicine, and a graduate student advisor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Drexler, who joined the Luckhart lab in January 2008, focuses her research on the roles of the human blood-derived insulin-like growth factor-1 and the role of insulin signaling in the regulation of malaria parasite transmission by Anopheles mosquitoes.The UC Davis student is a co-first author of a paper on malaria parasites published July 15, 2010 in the journal Public Library of Science Pathogens (PLOS). Titled “Activation of Akt Signaling Reduces the Prevalence and Intensity of Malaria Parasite Infection and Lifespan in Anopheles stephensi Mosquitoes,” the work is a collaborative effort between UC Davis and the University of Arizona.
Co-authors include Luckhart and UC Davis researcher Ed Lewis, who has a joint appointment with the Department of Nematology and the Department of Entomology.
The paper, with more than 4200 article views in July alone, has drawn extensive news coverage. BBC science reporter Victoria Gill, in a July 16th article headlined “Malaria-Proof Mosquito Engineered,” wrote that the scientists “have succeeded in genetically engineering a malaria-resistant mosquito.”
In a July 17th piece, “Malaria-Proof Mosquito Created,” ABC News science writer Eric Bland wrote that scientists have created a malaria-proof mosquito by engineering "a genetic ‘on switch' that permanently activates a malaria-destroying response.”
“If these mosquitoes,” Bland wrote, “are successfully introduced into the wild, they could prevent millions of people from becoming infected with life-threatening Plasmodium--the parasite that causes malaria.”
Drexler, who grew up in Washington, D.C., received her bachelor’s degree in integrative biology, with an emphasis on animal biology, from UC Berkeley in 1999. She earned her master’s degree in physiology and behavior from San Francisco State University in 2006.
The competitive NIH fellowships are available to provide funds to qualified students for stipends, research supplies, and research-related travel under an existing parent research grant.
The applications are evaluated on multiple criteria, including career goals, prior research training, research potential and relevant experience, and evidence of educational achievement.
This research is so important: targeting a killer that causes more than a million human deaths a year worldwide.
Anopheles gambiae, the mosquito that transmits malaria, has a new foe.
And his first name is Win.
Win Surachetpong, a UC Davis doctoral candidate in immunology with a designed emphasis in vector-borne disease, has just received the American Committee of Medical Entomology student travel award to present his malaria research at the 58th annual American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) conference Nov. 18-22 in Washington, D.C.
That's quite an honor, indeed.
Surachetpong studies with noted malaria researcher Shirley Luckhart, an associate professor of medical microbiology and immunology at UC Davis.
“Win’s work has demonstrated for the first time that signaling pathways that are well known for immune responsiveness in humans to Plasmodium infection are also important for the mosquito response to parasite infection,” said Luckhart, a faculty member of the Graduate Program in Entomology, and the Graduate Groups of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Microbiology; and Immunology.
“Win will be presenting exciting unpublished work that moves forward from his recent publication in PLoS Pathogens,” she said.
Also by invitation, Surachetpong will discuss his research at the adjoining meeting of the American Committee of Molecular, Cellular and Immunoparasitology, a unit of ASTMH that fosters the transfer of fundamental discoveries in basic research to applications that improve human health.
Malaria, caused by the parasite Plasmodium and transmitted by infected anophelene mosquitoes, strikes some 350 to 500 million people a year, killing more than a million. (Above: The photo of Anopheles gambiae is by UC Davis medical entomologist Anthony "Anton" Cornel, based at the UC Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier.)Luckhart (at left) said that Win is “working simultaneously on three different, inter-related, redox-regulated signal transduction pathways that will move our current state of knowledge forward significantly when he is through.”
“There are no commercially available tools (such as antibodies, reagents for knockout) that have been designed to study these signaling pathways in invertebrate cells, much less mosquito cells,” she said.
Surachetpong is adapting available tools for mammalian cell studies to his work and developing the remaining tools and reagents on his own. “His data comprised nearly all of the preliminary data for a new NIH grant that will allow us to move forward into new and exciting areas in anti-malarial innate immunity,” Luckhart said.
Earlier this year, Surachetpong won the 2009 William C. Reeves New Investigator Award, a statewide award which acknowledges the best scientific paper submitted and presented at the annual Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California conference.
A native of Thailand, Surachetpong received his doctor of veterinary science degree at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok in 2000, ranking first in his class, and his master of science degree in pathobiology in 2005 from the University of Arizona, where he received the “Above and Beyond Award” from the Department of Veterinary Science and Microbiology.
After completing his doctorate at UC Davis, Surachetpong will join the faculty at Kasetsart University, Bangkok, to continue his research on tropical and emerging infectious diseases.
As a medical entomologist and immunologist, his goal is to utilize his expertise in vector-borne diseases and innate immunity to improve malaria transmission control in Thailand and other endemic countries.
Malaria is indeed a global terrorist.
The disease, caused by the parasite Plasmodium and transmitted by infected anopheline mosquitoes, strikes some 350 to 500 million people a year, killing more than a million individuals, primarily in Africa, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So, it's good news to hear that malaria researcher Win Surachetpong, a doctoral candidate in the Shirley Luckhart lab at UC Davis, is the 2009 winner of the William C. Reeves New Investigator Award, given to the best scientific paper presented at the annual Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California (MVCAC) meeting.
Surachetpong received $1000 and a plaque at the 77th annual MVCAC meeting, held in “Win is a very talented, dedicated student and I have been extremely fortunate to have him in my lab,” said Luckhart, a noted malaria researcher and an associate professor of medical microbiology and immunology at the UC Davis School of Medicine, and a faculty member of the Graduate Groups of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Microbiology; Immunology; and the Graduate Program in Entomology.
“His work,” she said, “has been the foundation of the development of a completely new area of work for us that will probably keep us busy for years to come." On a personal note, Win is a good friend to everyone in the lab and always ready with a quick smile and good word for the day."
The award memorializes William C. Reeves, a renowned entomologist and professor at UC Berkeley who was widely regarded as the world's foremost authority on the spread and control of mosquito-borne diseases. Reeves (1916-2004) was a frequent visitor to the UC Davis campus.
“Win is a very talented, dedicated student and I have been extremely fortunate to have him in my lab,” said Luckhart, a noted malaria researcher and an associate professor of medical microbiology and immunology at the UC Davis School of Medicine, and a faculty member of the Graduate Groups of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Microbiology; Immunology; and the Graduate Program in Entomology.
Surachetpong said that malaria “remains an enormous public health burden, especially in developing countries.”
“New strategies including integrated vector management in combination with current conventional malaria control efforts such as drug treatment and bednet usage could synergistically reduce malaria transmission,” Surachetpong said.
“However, our current knowledge of vector-host-parasite interactions is limited,” he noted. “For example, how mosquito innate immune responses control malaria parasite development and how blood-derived factors modulate mosquito biology remain interesting topics.”
“In this study, we reveal the role of MEK-ERK (mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase) signaling in regulation of malaria parasite development by an ingested blood-derived, mammalian cytokine in the mosquito host.”
The results, the researchers said, “provide new insights into the host-parasite-vector relationship that could be utilized as a foundation for new strategies to reduce malaria transmission.”
A native of
Last year Surachetpong was awarded a prestigious Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation health travel award to present his research at a Keystone Symposia conference in Bangkog, Thailand. The meeting focused on the pathogenesis and control of emerging infections and drug-resistant organisms.
Surachetpong received his doctorate of veterinary science at
Win Surachetpong and Shirley Luckhart