Hello CSS Community: My name is Elfadil Osman and I am currently a senior majoring in Biological Sciences with a specialization in Physiology & Neurobiology and a minor in Creative Writing. Over the past two summers, I have had the privilege of conducting research at the University of California, San Francisco in the lab of Dr. Joesph DeRisi through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Exceptional Research Opportunities Program (EXROP) and Capstone Award. The DeRisi lab is a large genomics and molecular biology lab that is interested in a number of infectious agents, but the focus of my research, during both summers, was on Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that is responsible for malaria.
During the summer of 2015, I conducted research on the gene regulation of a protein that allows for the parasite to sequester in the placenta, termed Placental Malaria, which causes multiple complications during pregnancy for both mother and child. During my time there I was able to identify multiple genetic elements that may play a role in placental sequestration, and these elements can serve as future antimalarial targets. During the summer of 2016, I worked with a graduate student who had recently commenced her Ph.D. program which focused on understanding, at large, how the parasite synthesizes proteins.
Those two summers were extremely transformative. They not only reaffirmed my passion for basic biology research but also contextualized my interest in a way that I was able to develop concrete steps to start my career. I will be continuing malaria work during my Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, and will undoubtedly be using many of the tools and skills I developed during those two summers.