Ian Bathurst Global Health Travel Award recipient – George Ayodo

George Ayodo
George Ayodo, Senior Research Officer, Kenya Medical Research Institute-University of Minnesota Malaria Project, Kisumu, Kenya

1. What prompted your research interest in malaria?

I come from Siaya, which is a county close to Lake Victoria in Western Kenya. Malaria is the main cause of mortality and morbidity in Kenya. Transmission is especially high in Siaya; the stagnant water provides an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. I know that interventions like drugs, bed nets, spraying of insecticides have worked in other malaria-endemic regions. They haven’t been able to have such a positive impact in Siaya yet. More research is needed to come up with an effective strategy to put the available interventions to better use. This is what motivates me. I think it’s really important that scientists who come from affected areas, work with other scientists and the community to ensure these interventions are used correctly and improved upon.

2. Can you explain what area of malaria biology you are researching and why it is important?

If you look at the epidemiology of malaria infection, some areas have many cases of severe malaria while others have uncomplicated malaria. We are trying to understand the role of human immune responses in this epidemiology. Understanding host immune responses is critical for drug and vaccine development.

3. What have been the benefits of attending this drug discovery conference and what are you looking forward to most?

One of the main benefits for attending this conference is that I had chance to talk with the researchers translating the findings of their research on drug targets in in vivo models into studies in humans. Also, I had chance to meet with other researchers from Africa and discuss the limitations of our research approach in light of what is going on elsewhere.

4. What are your future career goals and how will the Keystone meeting help you to fulfil these? 

I believe Africa researchers should play a key role in the development of new medicines for malaria in order to contribute fairly. My goal is to help contribute to bridging malaria knowledge gaps and ensure that interventions are used correctly in order to have maximum impact. I believe the contacts I have made in the keystone meeting will help to realize these goals.