Student-Athletes vs. Neglected Tropical Diseases

Student Research

Student Research

Video by Joe O’Neill

Students research bug-borne illnesses

Two student-athletes are taking on a new challenge—tropical diseases transmitted by insects. Working in the lab, the students study parasites that live in the guts of insects and are transmitted to humans through bug bites. They hope to learn more about potential treatments for Chagas and African sleeping sickness, tropical parasitic diseases that mainly affect citizens in developing nations and can reduce life expectancy by 20-30 years.

The research is led by Jason Gavenonis, assistant professor of chemistry. Gavin Harter ’17 (chemistry), captain of the football team and track and field member, and Leah Wachsmuth ’19 (biochemistry & molecular biology), a pole-vaulter, are investigating potential new drug targets to treat these diseases, which are largely overlooked by global medical researchers. Harter had co-presented the ongoing work during the 31st Annual Science Student Research Symposium on April 15.

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Published July 15, 2016