PROF. ISABELLA OYIER

PROF. ISABELLA OYIER

Head of Bioscience

Research groups:

Biography

Following the completion of my 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. I 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. I 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, I 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. I was appointed Visiting Lecturer to the Centre for Biotechnology and Bioinformatics (CEBIB), University of Nairobi, in 2011. Here, I developed a molecular biology lab, taught on the molecular biology and advanced molecular genetics MSc courses and supervised MSc students. I 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, I established a career development group to improve the learning environment through mentoring, postgraduate supervision and personal development planning activities and developed a modern lecture room, an online CEBIB Postgraduate handbook and an online documentation system. My area of research is in Plasmodium falciparum malaria molecular epidemiology, focusing on the spatial and temporal use of molecular tools to: 1) examine genetic variation in merozoite antigens that are potential candidates for blood stage vaccines and its impact on naturally acquired immunity; 2) define complexity of infection while examining the impact of interventions or changes in malaria epidemiology; 3) distinguish persistent infections and reinfections in both therapeutic efficacy studies and in longitudinal follow up of asymptomatic individuals; and 4) monitor drug resistance molecular markers.

Links

I am currently a Wellcome Trust Intermediate fellow, conducting my research in collaboration with Prof Julian Rayner (Cambridge Institute for Medical Research) to develop a novel strategy for understanding the functional impact of variation in P. falciparum merozoite vaccine candidates. I supervise MSc and PhD students and my research group focuses on malaria molecular epidemiology with an interest in antimalarial resistance and asymptomatic malaria infections. I am the Head of the Biosciences Department, managing the departmental strategy, cutting-edge laboratory platform that support both clinical care and pathogen biology research and recently COVID-19 diagnostic RT-PCR testing and SARS-CoV-2 whole genome sequencing.

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