Dr Jandeli Niemand from the Malaria Parasite Molecular Laboratory in the Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology at the University of Pretoria (UP) won a prize for her poster entitled: “The use of phenomics to generate mode of action fingerprints of antiplasmodial compounds” at the Setting our Sights on Infectious Diseases conference held at the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research in Dundee, Scotland.
The results of this research can be expanded to create a library of phenotypic fingerprints to compare the mode-of-action (MoA) of new compounds against currently used antimalarials, as well as to confirm that the MoA of a given compound is maintained during the lead optimisation process.
“Attending this conference and winning a poster prize assisted me in establishing contacts with international researchers, thereby building the international research profile that is crucial at this stage of my career. It is gratifying that the international malaria drug discovery community recognised the quality of the work that we perform at the UP Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control,” Dr Niemand explained regarding the significance of winning an international poster award.
Dr Niemand is a Y-rated Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Pretoria (UP). Following the completion of a Claude Leon postdoctoral fellowship, she worked as a clinical trial associate to gain experience in the drug development pipeline in South Africa. She returned to academia in 2014 as part of the DST/NRF succession plan requirement to expand the SARChI Chair in Sustainable Malaria Control, currently held by Prof Lyn-Marie Birkholtz at UP.
Her research focuses on the biology of the human malaria parasite with a particular interest in unique and essential parasite processes targetable in sustainable malaria control strategies. Specifically, she investigates the ways in which the transmissible, sexual-stage parasite takes up nutrients from the human host as well as systems-level understanding of the malaria parasites’ phenome (global phenotype analysis through evaluating nutrient uptake and metabolism), for which she was awarded the L’Oréal-UNESCO FWIS Sub-Saharan Fellowship, NRF Unrated and NRF Y-rated support grants. Her research has resulted in 14 internationally published papers authored/co-authored to date, of which three are reviews.