WACCBIP STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: CYNTHIA MMALEBNA AMISIGO
This week’s student spotlight is Cynthia Mmalebna Amisigo, a final year MPhil student with the West African Center for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP). Cynthia is driven by the passion to positively change the world with her research, which is to eradicate African animal trypanosomiasis (AAT), a parasitic disease that causes economic losses in livestock.
Where did you grow up and what are your interests?
I come from Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region, but I grew up in Accra, where I received my education. I am interested in host-pathogen interactions with relation to disease development and progression, as well as drug development.
What were your future aspirations as a child? Did those dreams change as you grew up?
In Ghana, infectious and neglected diseases are still prevalent. This sparked a keen interest in me on how to deal with these diseases. Therefore, I am being motivated to pursue a career in biomedical science as a research Scientist, where I can contribute to curb these diseases globally.
Which laboratory are you currently working with and when did you start?
I am currently working with the Theresa Manful Gwira research group in the Molecular Biology Laboratory at the Department of Biochemistry. The group is particularly interested in the molecular and cellular biology of kinetoplastids and their host pathogen interactions. I started work in August, 2017.
What is your research area and why are you passionate about it?
I am interested in African Animal Trypanosomiasis (AAT) which is common in Ghana, especially in cattle, even though treatment methods are available. My current research focuses on the effect of iron chelators on the survival of Trypanosoma brucei brucei. This study is interesting because information obtained will add to the therapeutic pool.
What do you like about WACCBIP? Any experience you can share from workshops and seminars?
From a personal experience, when it comes to finding the right environment to obtain excellent practical and theoretical experience in research, I can say WACCBIP is second to none. In addition to that, WACCBIP promotes collaborations with foreign and international faculty, and through that, I have been able to conduct part of my research activities at the University of Heidelberg in Germany with Prof. Christine Clayton research group. I also had the opportunity to visit Prof. Frischknecht’s laboratory, which is also at the University of Heidelberg. WACCBIP has help me to improve my scientific prowess, and provided the opportunity to build the necessary network to advance my research career.
What impact do you think your research will have in the world in the next decade?
My research will have tremendous impact in the area of African Trypanosomiasis with regards to disease treatment. Findings derived from this study will also go a long way to help further reduce or totally eradicate the disease.
Any future plans you want to share?
I have plans of expanding my research horizon in trypanosomes and other related infectious diseases.
Any advice you would like to give to prospective students?
My primary advice to prospective students is to be open to opportunities available and make the best out of them. The sky is not the limit, it is just a stepping stone.
[Cynthia completed her Bachelor’s Degree at the Department of Biochemistry of University of Ghana. Her favorite food is Kenkey and fish with hot pepper. She enjoys listening to gospel music during her leisure time and enjoys watching cartoons].