Prof Isabella Oyier


Prof Isabella Oyier

BSc, PhD Associate Professor

research group: Malaria Molecular Epidemiology


Following the completion of her PhD at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in Prof Steve Ward’s lab, Lynette Isabella Oyier joined the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) in 2006 as a post-doctoral researcher. She worked under Profs. David Conway (LSHTM) and Kevin Marsh, to study natural selection in Plasmodium falciparum merozoite antigens at the MRC, The Gambia and KWTRP. She later received a re-entry grant from the Malaria Capacity Development Consortium (MCDC), to work on the temporal genetic variation in merozoite antigens. In addition, she has supervised a Wellcome Trust funded MSc fellow in collaboration with Prof Colin Sutherland (LSHTM) to examine the temporal genetic variation in known drug resistance markers. She was appointed Visiting Lecturer to the Centre for Biotechnology and Bioinformatics (CEBIB), University of Nairobi, in 2011. There, she developed a molecular biology lab, taught on the molecular biology and advanced molecular genetics MSc courses and supervised MSc students. She received a MCDC initiative award to examine the genetic diversity of P. falciparum erythrocyte receptors and conducted part of the project at CEBIB. While at CEBIB, using funding from the MCDC, she established a career development group to improve the learning environment through mentoring, postgraduate supervision and personal development planning activities. In 2015, she received funding from the Wellcome Trust, the International Intermediate Fellowship award for the project, A novel strategy for understanding the functional impact of variation in Plasmodium falciparum merozoite vaccine candidates, in collaboration with Prof Julian Rayner, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. 


My area of research is in Plasmodium falciparum malaria molecular epidemiology, focusing on the spatial and temporal use of molecular tools to:

  • Examine genetic variation in merozoite antigens that are potential candidates for blood stage vaccines and its impact on naturally acquired immunity;
  • Define complexity of infection while examining the impact of interventions or changes in malaria epidemiology;
  • Distinguish persistent infections and reinfections in both therapeutic efficacy studies and in longitudinal follow up of asymptomatic individuals; and 
  • Monitor drug resistance molecular markers. 
She has been a member of various technical consultations on the use of pathogen genomics for disease surveillance at the WHO, Africa CDC and with the Division of National Malaria Programme in Kenya.  The current members of my research group are
  • Dr Mercy Akinyi a visiting postdoctoral fellow based at the Institute of Primate Research,
  • Kelvin Muteru a PhD student,
  • Leonard Ndwiga a Research Officer,
  • Dorcas Okanda and
  • Victor Osoti both Assistant Research Officers.