The first C.C. Wang Prize in Molecular Parasitology awarded to Dr. Andreia Albuquerque Wendt

The first C.C. Wang Prize in Molecular Parasitology awarded to Dr. Andreia Albuquerque Wendt

Dr. Andreia Albuquerque Wendt was selected as a recipient of the C.C. Wang Prize in Molecular Parasitology for her outstanding performance at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) Biology of Parasitism (BoP) course that ran from 15th June to 4th August 2019 in Woods Hole, MA.

The $2000 prize was established this year by the Burroughs Welcome Fund to honour the memory of Prof. Ching-Chung Wang, a pioneer in the field of parasitology. The award is meant to distinguish a MBL BoP student who through their performance during the course demonstrated they exemplify the type of research and scientific spirit that C.C. Wang exhibited.

Andreia is a postdoctoral researcher in the Dr. Gluenz laboratory at the Dunn School, where she is passionately pursuing her research of the unicellular eukaryotic parasite Leishmania. These tropical and sub-tropical protozoans constitute a major health concern for animals and humans, especially in poverty-stricken areas of South America, Africa, Asia, and the Mediterranean region. Canine and feline leishmaniasis is in fact highly prevalent in Andreia’s home country, Portugal. “Three of our dogs died from leishmaniasis. First one died when I was six, then another when I was thirteen and the last one in my early twenties,” said Andreia when explaining her motivation to study Leishmania biology. Dr. Gluenz laboratory is on the frontier of the Leishmania research, having recently developed CRISPR/Cas9-based tools to dissect the biology of the otherwise quite genetically intractable parasite. Andreia chose to utilize this powerful approach to study Leishmania membrane transporter proteins with a hope that the understanding of their fundamental biology will accelerate the development of new treatments.

To broaden her already impressive parasitology expertise, Andreia applied to participate in the 2019 BoP course. The course was first established in 1980 to teach modern molecular biology and immunology concepts to young scientists investigating biology of human infecting parasites.  Today, the 7-week intensive course is known around the world as one of the best opportunities for aspiring parasitologists to immerse in the science, discover new ways of approaching and thinking about their research and create lasting connections within the community.

Andreia thinks that her sincere curiosity and proactive attitude were what made her stand out and, to her surprise, be selected as a C.C. Wang Prize recipient. During her stay at MBL in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Andreia took any opportunity to discuss her science with her colleagues and the prominent faculty who led individual course modules focusing on a specific angle of parasite research, such as Vector Biology, Immunology, Gene Editing, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She engaged with enthusiasm in the hands-on sessions and enjoyed the social aspect of the event, which included interactions with participants of other courses running in parallel with BoP. “There was a moment when I thought I was in a sci-fi movie. There were few limits to what we could do,” said Andreia when questioned about her impressions from the course. The prize is intended to be used to cover part of the cost of attending the Molecular Parasitology Meeting in Woods Hole in the next two years. Andreia is very excited to take up this opportunity to come back and share her findings on the Transportome of Leishmania.

Written by Lucie Kafkova

Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - 12