Rosa Isela Gálvez, Ph.D.

What if immune “crosstalk” could make malaria partially protective against dengue fever?

Forty percent of the world’s population lives in the tropics. These areas are characterized by poverty but also by the presence of a plethora of mosquito-borne pathogens. Living in a warm climate means dealing with multiple potential infections, often at the same time. This is a special challenge for the body’s immune system. My SPARK project will shed light on T cell responses between two of the deadliest infectious diseases: malaria and dengue fever. Using samples from Ghanaian children, I want to understand the immunological crosstalk between these infections and shed light on how differences in T cell function may influence dengue fever severity. Scientists have made incredible progress toward understanding single infections on the molecular level, but still we don’t understand how factors in individual patients influence disease severity. With this SPARK Award, I will study how a history of previous and/or concurrent infections shapes a person’s immune response and thereby influences their disease outcome in a real life setting.

SPARKing Impact: My SPARK project will shed light on T cell responses between two of the deadliest infectious diseases: malaria and dengue fever. I will study how a history of previous and/or concurrent infections shapes a person’s immune response and thereby influences their disease outcome in a real life setting.