KSU researcher receives NIH fellowship to battle malaria

A Kansas State University researcher recently received a prestigious fellowship from the U.S. National Institutes of Health to support mosquito and malaria research.

Bart Bryant, a research associate in biology, received the National Research Service Award Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship, which will provide $113,000 over the course of two years. Bryant works in a laboratory that focuses primarily on mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases, like malaria.

"Malaria is a problem throughout the world and we are trying to understand how it interacts with the mosquito and the mosquito's immunity," Bryant said. "The better we understand the immune response of the mosquito, the better we will be able to come up with novel methods to limit parasite development."

Bryant will use the fellowship to study the mosquito immune system at a cellular level. He is researching immune system cells, known as hemocytes, and the role they play when mosquitoes take a bloodmeal.

"The mosquito has to take a bloodmeal to complete its life cycle, but at the same time, that is when it's going to be exposed to parasites," Bryant said.

Bryant and fellow researchers found that when mosquitoes take a bloodmeal, the number of hemocytes grows to prepare the immune system to fight pathogens. By determining how the mosquito immune system functions, researchers could eliminate parasites in mosquitoes and find a cure for malaria and other mosquito borne diseases.

"If we find a cure for the mosquito, we might be able to find a cure for malaria," Kristin Michel, an associate professor of biology at the university, said. "If we cure the mosquito, we cure us."

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National Institutes of Health

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