Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by the adult stage of digenetic trematodes of the Genus Schistosoma (Schistosoma mansoni, S. hematobium and S. japonicum). It afflicts more than 200 million people, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 600 million more at risk.
Transmission of schistosomiasis to humans occurs in fresh water. Infected snails release cercariae, which are small motile forms of the parasite that are attracted to human secretions and are able to penetrate through the skin.
My primary research interests focus on developing strategies to limit or prevent the transmission of schistosomiasis from the snail intermediate hosts to humans. To address this central question, I utilize a combination of lab-based immunological techniques to characterize the interactions that occur between the snail host and the parasite, and field-based public health and environmental health approaches to test hypotheses related to preventing parasite transmission to humans.
My objective is to be able to apply biological and environmental data relating to parasite transmission towards an applied field project based in areas where schistosomiasis is endemic.
The primary aims of this project rely upon a combination of health promotion and education of people in endemic communities, epidemiology, environmental assessment and modification, as well as lab-based molecular biology and immunology. The goal is to provide relief for acute symptoms, and then facilitate increased awareness within a community.
I believe that by combining various environmental and preventative measures with the current, widely employed treatment strategy, schistosomiasis can be more effectively controlled.
Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of New Mexico, 2010
PhD, University of Alberta, 2008
BSc, University of Alberta, 2002
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), 2008
Andrew Stewart Memorial Prize, University of Alberta, 2007
CGS-D PhD Scholarship, NSERC, 2005