Meagan graduated summa cum laude from Rice University in 2008 with a bachelor’s in Biological Sciences and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. After graduating, she pursued her passion for global health, exploring the seasonality and morbidity of non-falciparum malaria with (ASTMH member) Abdoulaye Djimde, PharmD, PhD, at the Malaria Research and Training Center in Mali. Meagan matriculated into the Baylor College of Medicine Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) in Houston, TX in 2009, pursued training through the global health track and completed the Diploma in Tropical Medicine from the National School of Tropical Medicine. With (former ASTMH President) Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, FASTMH, as her mentor, she developed a novel therapeutic vaccine against Chagas disease, with the goal of preventing chagasic cardiomyopathy disease progression. During her PhD training, Meagan published six articles as first author, co-authored another two papers and was awarded the MSTP Thesis Publication Award. She successfully defended her thesis, “A therapeutic nanoparticle vaccine against Trypanosoma cruzi in a BALB/c mouse model of Chagas disease” in October 2015 and was awarded the two highest distinctions in the Graduate School for Biomedical Sciences: the Deborah K. Martin Achievement Award and the Lehmann Outstanding Student Award. She has also excelled in numerous leadership positions, including serving as the founding president of the Infectious Disease Interest Group and as the research coordinator for the Emergency Medicine Interest Group. For her community service, she was the recipient of the MSTP Outstanding Service Award. She plans to apply for residency programs in academic international emergency medicine.
Project: "Host immune response and parasite burden in Giardia lamblia and Ascaris lumbricoides co-infection in three regions in Colombia"
January 23, 2017 - February 24, 2017
What does the Kean Fellowship mean to you?
I am deeply honored to be selected for the prestigious Kean Fellowship. The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is the pre-eminent society for those interested in a career in international health, and this award recognizes students who are passionate about this career path. The Kean Fellowship will provide an unparalleled first opportunity for me to execute my own research project in a resource-limited setting while working clinically in a disease-endemic region, which is my career aspiration as a physician scientist.
What do you anticipate learning?
I have three key objectives for my Kean Fellowship-supported project:
- Research objective: to collect blood and stool samples from patients in Colombia co-infected with A. lumbricoides and G. lamblia, in order to identify immunological markers of protection associated with parasite burden reduction.
- Professional growth objective: to gain experience at the bench and the bedside while in a disease-endemic, resource-limited setting, which is my career goal as a physician scientist.
- Capacity building objective: to share my knowledge of advanced immunological techniques gained during my PhD training to provide new avenues of scientific discovery for local researchers.
What interests you about tropical medicine and what problems are you interested in solving?
My passion for a career in tropical medicine was fueled during a six-week trip to Terrier Rouge, Haiti, where I implemented a health curriculum at a rural elementary school. Seeing firsthand the profound effects of tropical diseases on severely impoverished communities dramatically impacted my career trajectory. Though the morbidity is tremendous, there is a relative dearth of research dedicated toward fighting these diseases. I carried these career aspirations into my MD/PhD training at Baylor College of Medicine, where I founded the Infectious Disease Interested Group, completed a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and developed a therapeutic nanoparticle vaccine against Trypanosoma cruzi. My career aspiration as a physician scientist is to conduct research that will lead to new therapeutics and diagnostics for the neglected tropical diseases.