Kevin Omondi Ochwedo
After receiving a B.Sc. in Microbiology and Biotechnology from the University of Nairobi (UoN), I was awarded a scholarship to pursue an M.Sc. in Biotechnology at Centre for Biotechnology and Bioinformatics (CEBIB). For my thesis, I investigated the genetics of blood-stage malaria vaccine candidate genes Plasmodium falciparum Rh5 interacting protein and cysteine-rich protective antigen in parasites from clinical patients in Kilifi, Kenya. I worked closely with Prof. Lynette Ochola-Oyier (Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome Trust Research Programme), Prof. George Obiero (CEBIB), and Dr. Antony Otieno (UoN).
I completed my PhD fellowship at the Sub-Saharan International Centre for Malaria Research (ICEMR) in Homa Bay, Kenya. My PhD research was supported by a collaborative partnership among the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine), Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), and Tom Mboya University (TMU). I worked under the supervision of Prof. James Kazura (CWRU), Prof. Guiyun Yan (UC Irvine), Prof. Andrew Githeko (KEMRI), and Prof. Wolfgang Mukabana (Uon). My research focused on the functional analysis of immune response to P. falciparum gametocyte surface antigens Pfs25, Pfs48/45, and Pfs230, which are candidates for malaria transmission blocking vaccines (MTBVs). We identified genetic plasticity in the three antigens in parasite isolates from different transmission settings, including novel mutations and their impacted domains, and predicted the antigens’ suitability as MTBV candidates. After my PhD, I continued working at ICEMR, where I conducted clinical malaria research and seasonal malaria vector surveillance in western Kenya.
In early 2023, I began working as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Luckhart’s lab at the University of Idaho. I am researching the effect of biogenic amine signaling and receptor antagonists on Anopheles physiology, biological patterns, and vector competence.