Neima is a fourth year MD/PhD Candidate at UTHealth & MD Anderson Cancer Center. Following his graduation in 2011 from the Dean’s Scholars Program at the University of Texas at Austin, Neima began his pursuit of international healthcare through a Fulbright Fellowship to Valencia, Spain. There he conducted research in understanding the transmission of antibiotic resistance between mothers and infants to help guide protocols of antibiotic therapy during pregnancy.
Since returning to the US, Neima has completed three years of medical school and has begun his PhD in immunology at MD Anderson Cancer Center. His doctoral research is on vaccine development against neglected tropical diseases with the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine, in collaboration with his home institution. His current research is aimed at the development of a pan-anthelmintic vaccine against soil-transmitted helminths that infect the world's poorest billion people. Partnering with the non-profit Houston Shoulder to Shoulder Foundation, Neima will return to the rural municipality of Colomoncagua, Honduras as a Kean Fellow to conduct a human study identifying the immunological mediators of protection against endemic soil-transmitted helminths. His long-term aspiration as a physician scientist is to develop novel approaches aimed towards the eradication of infectious diseases that plague underserved populations. Some of Neima’s favorite leisure activities include scuba diving, traveling, and playing sports, in particular soccer.
Project: "Immunological characterization of human hosts to Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura infection in a population living in the rural municipality of Colomoncagua, Honduras"
April 14, 2016 - May 25, 2016
What does the Kean Fellowship mean to you?
The Kean Fellowship provides a unique opportunity for me to conduct translational research in a region endemic for the neglected tropical diseases my lab studies. Conducting a human study in the resource-limited setting of rural Honduras is a cumbersome venture as graduate student, but as a Kean Fellow I have access to the support and resources required to accomplish it. As a physician-scientist I hope to continue the work I conduct as a Kean Fellow, developing novel approaches towards the eradication of infectious diseases that plague underserved populations.
What do you anticipate learning?
My research as a Kean Fellow aims to accomplish two goals. First, we will use collected samples in our lab for preclinical anthelmintic vaccine antigen discovery. Second, in collaboration with the Clínica de Santa Ana we will identify the prevalence of several gastrointestinal parasites in the region to help guide prophylactic and treatment strategies in the regions. The Kean Fellowship provides me the opportunity for early career independence in both my clinical and research endeavors in global health.
What interests you about tropical medicine and what problems are you interested in solving?
My interest in tropical medicine stems from an underlying drive to combat diseases that affect the world's most impoverished people. Currently, I work at the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development to discover and produce vaccines against neglected tropical diseases. As a physician-scientist I hope to continue my career in global health and tropical medicine, focused on therapeutic and diagnostic development. Working in tropical medicine has also provided me an immediate connection to a global community of scientists and health care professionals dedicated to combating diseases.