Congratulations to M&I graduate student Kizzi Corbett for winning this UNC fellowship that will support her research in Sri Lanka this Spring! For the past 12 years, the de Silva laboratory has been collaborating with investigators in Sri Lanka to study the epidemiology of dengue, the most significant mosquito-borne viral infection of humans. For her doctoral dissertation, Kizzi has been using blood samples from Sri Lankan children to study dengue pathogenesis. She has developed two independent hypotheses about how pre-existing antibodies and/or the circulating strains of virus influence disease outcome, and she has already identified specific properties of human antibodies that appear to protect from severe infection. Recently, a new strain of highly pathogenic dengue serotype 1 has been detected in Sri Lanka.
Kizzi will use this fellowship to travel to Sri Lanka to obtain and study blood samples from people exposed to this new strain of dengue. She also looks forward to observing, first hand, the setting in which dengue viruses circulate and the challenges faced by clinicians and scientists working in resource-poor countries. Kizzi will be the third M&I graduate student from the de Silva group to conduct research in Sri Lanka.