Yvette Kazungu

PDRA-Molecular Virology

I obtained a BSc in Biotechnology and Laboratory Sciences at Sokoine University of Agriculture, followed by an MSc in Health and Biomedical Sciences at the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), both in Tanzania.

During my MSc I examined how incremental tick challenge affects immunity against East Coast Fever and antigen prevalence in mixed (vaccinated and unvaccinated) cattle populations in agro-pastoral areas of the Maasai steppe. The analysis considered the potential impact of buffalo strains of the parasite Theileria parva not covered in the vaccination regime among cattle grazing in close proximity to national parks as well as the elapsed time since vaccination.

After this, I continued working on various other aspects of the project until I switched to virology for my PhD. My PhD fellowship was in the Molecular Virology laboratory at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) in Trieste, Italy. The research focus of the project that included my work is on virus-host cell interactions during flaviviral infections with an emphasis on ER stress and the Unfolded protein response (UPR), specifically, the critical role UPR plays in antiviral signaling and kinetics of infection. I was able to point out some TBEV viral proteins responsible for ER stress during infection and using those as a way of inducing ER stress as an alternative to chemical inducers. Additionally, I identified a protein candidate that elicits an antiviral signature with only partial involvement of UPR.

My research at LSTM involves the characterisation of inflammation profiles following SARS-CoV2 infection in a humanised mouse model then testing some repurposed antivirals in combination with anti-inflammatory treatment as well as other identified COVID therapies for the ability to change viral loads and lung disease outcomes. Additionally, further testing with some identified drug combinations against several RNA viruses of clinical importance.

Member of the Biotechnology Laboratory Scientists Assosiation - Tanzania