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I am a second year graduate student in the Mackey Lab at Virginia Tech. The Mackey Lab is a parasitology laboratory based in the Department of Biochemistry and is part of the Fralin Life Science Vector Borne Disease Institute at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA, USA. Our research focuses on the identification and characterization of proteins involved in the DNA replication machinery of Trypanosoma brucei to develop potential therapeutic targets. Trypanosoma brucei is the causative agent of Human African trypanosomiasis, a neglected vector borne disease that threatens the health of more than 60 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa. Current treatments are ineffective and have severe side effects, which support the need to identify new targets in the parasite to be therapeutically exploited.

Previous studies have shown that the parasite, Trypanosoma brucei, uses homologs of the Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen (PCNA) and extracellular-signal regulated kinase 8 (ERK8), both of which are directly involved in DNA replication, and more specifically may be present in the replisome. However, the remainder of the replisome is less characterized in T. brucei. My research focus is to demonstrate a more comprehensive view of the T. brucei replisome to identify potential therapeutic targets.