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Mariana De Niz, a postdoctoral fellow of Luísa Figueiredo Lab at iMM, was now awarded a prestigious Human Frontier Science Program (HSFP) Fellowship worth about $180,000. This funding supports salary for three years and includes support for research costs. With this research project, Mariana De Niz will explore the dynamics and biophysical properties of Trypanosoma brucei (causative parasite of sleeping sickness) within tissues of living animals.

African trypanosomiasis are neglected diseases that threaten millions of people and cattle in many countries of the sub-Saharan Africa region. The diseases are caused by Trypanosoma brucei, a unicellular parasite transmitted by the bite of an infected tsetse fly. Luísa Figueiredo’s lab investigates the cellular and molecular mechanisms employed by T. brucei to be an effective parasite.

“Trypanosomes live in the blood and in extravascular spaces of several organs, including the adipose tissue. In this project, we will investigate how parasites move between organs. We will use a combination of imaging, genetics and biophysical measurements to identify the molecules in the parasites and in the host that underlie this parasite mobility”, explains Mariana De Niz.

“This is the first fellowship awarded to a young scientist to come and work at iMM and I believe this is a good indicator that our institute is able to attract the best post-docs to work in our laboratories and that we are also more competitive internationally”, says Luisa Figueiredo, group leader at iMM.

The Human Frontier Science Program, through its prestigious long-term postdoctoral fellowship, encourages young scientists to explore questions at the frontier of various disciplines, and investigate new research areas in a creative manner, in leading labs across the world. “This year, 79 postdoctoral fellowships were awarded to the world’s most outstanding young life scientists, chosen through rigorous international selection out of a total of 580 applications from 54 countries”, states the organisation.