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Dakar, Senegal - CIGASS

Site Institution: Cheikh Anta Diop University/ Centre International de recherche, de formation en Génomique Appliquée et de Surveillance Sanitaire (CIGASS)
U.S. Institution: Yale University
Research Areas: Malaria, Genetic Diversity, Immunity, Host-Pathogen Dynamics

Site Description:
UCAD/CIGASS has significant experience in designing and testing malaria diagnostics and conducting drug resistance studies. The laboratory is located at CIGASS in Dakar, Senegal and the Genomics Unit of the Laboratory of Parasitology-Mycology. The laboratory serves as a Reference Laboratory on Parasite Disease Diagnostics for malaria in Senegal, as part of a collaboration between USAID/CDC PMI and the Ministry of Health. Additionally, the lab is a Regional Training Center for the International Center for Excellence in Malaria Research – West Africa (ICEMR-WAF), where scientists from Senegal, Mali, and The Gambia frequently train. Training is cornerstone of the team and multiple training initiatives have been funded through Fogarty, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the African Center of Excellence for Genomics on Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) in collaboration with Harvard, the CDC and the Broad Institute.

The research conducted at UCAD/CIGASS advances the local public health needs in trying to ensure that all have access to effective malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The collaborative research of the team fills a critical need by communicating research findings to the Ministry of Health to enhance the impact of basic research on malaria policy. Potential areas for mentored research include malaria diagnostics, longitudinal studies of immunity, genetic diversity, virulence gene expression and ex vivo phenotypic assays for virulence, drug resistance, and immune neutralization.

Other features of this site include:
  • Experienced team carrying out antimalarial drug resistance projects such as drug treatment efficacy studies, ex vivo assay development and validation, and design of new research techniques to characterize genetic diversity of parasites and both known and novel drug resistance markers. The group has contributed to designing new tools to enhance molecular malaria research in the field.
  • Coordinated field work at the Section de Lutte AntiParasitaire (SLAP) clinic in Thiès (70km from Dakar) where samples are collected then transported to CIGASS for the execution of ex vivo assays. The SLAP-Thies Clinic is a Ministry of Health clinic, created in 1953, that is a sentinel site for malaria research where studies on anti-malarial drug resistance, in vivo and ex vivo parasite drug responses, epidemiology and entomology studies are ongoing. The SLAP-Thies clinic has a computer with internet connection, two microscopes for diagnosis of malaria, clinical centrifuge, two hematocrit machines, and two refrigerators. The samples are transported daily to the CIGASS laboratory.
  • Infrastructure and technical experience at CIGASS in molecular diagnostic, genetic, genomic, and immunological techniques. As the National Reference Center for Genomics in Infectious Diseases, the lab helps to implement genomic research and surveillance systems for viruses, parasites, and other emerging pathogens. These programs are currently implemented in collaboration with the Senegal Ministry of Health (nationwide surveillance efforts focused on malaria), ACEGID , H3 Africa, USAID/PREDICT, and the CDC Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). The team leader is the General Secretary of the African Center of Excellence for the Health of Women and Child, based at UCAD, and has a long history of training Masters, Pharmacy, and PhD students in Africa.

Current research projects include:
  • Malaria parasite Rifin virulence protein expression spanning declining transmission in Senegal
  • Optimization and Implementation of a pooled deep sequencing approach for P. falciparum drug resistance molecular surveillance: integrating genomic data with policy in Senegal