Nicholas received his undergraduate degree with Highest Honors from Harvard College, majoring in Human Evolutionary Biology. He also received the Thomas T. Hoopes Prize for his undergraduate thesis work in chimpanzee ontogeny. After graduating, Nicholas pursued a Fulbright research fellowship studying chimpanzee growth, working with a local school district and volunteering at a local clinic in rural Western Uganda.
Currently, Nicholas is an MD/PhD student at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health pursuing a PhD in infectious disease molecular epidemiology under the direction of Drs. Jonathan Juliano and Steven Meshnick. His work focuses on malaria genomics and population genetics with an emphasis on drug resistance. The aim of this research is to use genomic data coupled with spatial, clinical and in vitro drug efficacy data to characterize and prevent the emergence of antimalarial resistance.
Outside of work, Nicholas is passionate about volunteering in the North Carolina community. He co-directs the Diabetes Management and Prevention Program at the Open Door Clinic of Alamance County, which was recently funded by the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. He also enjoys reading, particularly about primate ecology and human evolution, biking and hiking/traveling.
Project: "Longitudinal Assessment of Molecular Markers of Malaria Drug Resistance across Ethiopia
July 1, 2017 - August 1, 2017
What does the Kean Fellowship mean to you?
It is an honor to be a recipient of the Kean Fellowship and to be afforded the opportunity to collaborate with the Ethiopian Public Health Institute toward eliminating malaria. I am excited to participate in capacity building and the exchange of knowledge through my work with the Ethiopian Public Health Institute's Bacterial, Parasitic and Zoonoses Diseases Research Branch to establish their bioinformatics pipeline for molecular surveillance.
What do you anticipate learning?
- How a large-scale institution such as the Ethiopian Public Health Institute operates and cares for a population at the national level. In particular, I will be working in the Bacterial, Parasitic, and Zoonoses Disease Research Branch, and I will see how the institution responds to ongoing efforts to prevent and eliminate infectious diseases.
- For this project, we will be assessing shifts in Plasmodium falciparum drug-resistance patterns over time using a novel amplicon sequencing approach. This will afford me the opportunity to learn a new, next-generation sequencing method that will be a valuable tool in my future molecular surveillance efforts.
- Given the breadth and scope of our proposed project to assess drug resistance pattern changes temporally and spatially, I will be able to improve and refine my skill set in spatial and molecular epidemiology.
What interests you about tropical medicine and what problems are you interested in solving?
As a future physician-scientist, I aspire to practice medicine and conduct research internationally aimed at reducing the burden of neglected tropical diseases and other conditions afflicting the underserved. I believe pursuing training in tropical medicine is the best avenue to achieve these goals. With this in mind, following the completion of my MD-PhD program, I plan to attend a residency program involved in research efforts advancing infectious disease interventions domestically and internationally. Ultimately, I hope to use my training and career to contribute to research promoting the prevention of drug resistance in malaria and other infectious diseases. Through this path, I will leverage epidemiological research and medical training to improve global health.