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Pediatric immunity to infectious diseases focusing on Plasmodium falciparum malaria and Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), molecular epidemiology, Global Health Research, and the etiology of endemic Burkitt lymphoma in Africa.
Professor Ann M. Moormann
is leading a study which aims to shed light on endemic Burkitt lymphoma. Here, she talks about her studies to date and her hopes for the future of her research: Understanding Endemic Burkitt Lymphoma
Description of Research Projects
Pediatric immunity and malaria
Understanding the development and maintenance of adaptive immunity to Plasmodium falciparum malaria in pediatric populations residing in African countries, where this parasitic infection is responsible for 1-2 million deaths each year, is the underlying them to the research conducted in my lab. Our studies of cellular and humoral immune responses to various malaria antigens from naturally infected humans help inform malaria vaccine design. Understanding the evolution of protective T cell memory to malaria also involves genotyping immunologically relevant malaria protein epitopes.
Malaria and EBV co-infections in the etiology of endemic Burkitt lymphoma
Endemic Burkitt lymphoma (eBL) is the most common pediatric cancer in sub-Saharan African and has been linked to early-age Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection and geographically to regions with high malaria transmission intensity (ie holoendemic malaria). Uncovering the etiologic mechanisms that explain how these pediatric co-infections lead to eBL is the another area of research in my laboratory.
Pediatric immunity to other infections and vaccine preventable diseases (ie measles)
Other co-infections of interest to our group include schistosomiasis, measles virus, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) due to either their immune-modulating potential or their ability to induce antigen-specific T cell immunity not associated with cancer that can serve as a positive control for our eBL studies. Such studies also provide a better understanding of fundamental aspects of T cell immunity in infants and young children.
Immunologic and viral predictors of survival for children with endemic Burkitt lymphoma
This project aims to establish non-invasive, readily measured correlates of long-term survival in pediatric patients diagnosed with endemic Burkitt lymphoma (eBL); that in turn can be used within the context of a future clinical trial aimed at improving the chemotherapeutic regimen used to cure this pediatric cancer. The kinetics and clinical usefulness of biomarkers such as EBV viral loads, the function and phenotype of EBV-specific T cell immunity and EBV serological profiles will be evaluated as diagnostic predictors within the context of our longitudinal study.
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