Mentor / Lab:
Dr. Douglas J LaCount
Specific Research Area / Project:
Plasmodium falciparum-exported proteins and their erythrocyte cytoskeletal targets
Tribhuwan University, Nepal
Plasmodium falciparum infects human red blood cells (RBC) and causes the most lethal form of human malaria. RBC remodeling is key to P. falciparum pathogenesis, which helps the parasite to evade host defense mechanism and contribute to severe manifestations like cerebral malaria and placental malaria. The remodeling is attributed to the export of hundreds of proteins by the parasite to the infected RBC (iRBC). However, the functions of most exported proteins are still unknown. The identification of the binding partners of the exported proteins in the iRBC can help in understanding the functions of these proteins. We are interested in understanding erythrocyte cytoskeletal binding partners and functions of the parasite-exported proteins. We hypothesize that a subset of exported proteins target specific proteins in the iRBC cytoskeleton and the interactions between the parasite proteins and iRBC proteins have biological significance for the survival and development of the parasite. The identification of noble and important interactions will serve as potential drug targets against falciparum malaria.
I have been very interested in infectious diseases and public health since my childhood. So, I chose microbiology as my major during my undergraduate study. I did both BS and MS in Microbiology from Tribhuwan University, Nepal. My dream to build my scientific career in the field of parasite biology started while I was searching for parasite eggs and ovas in the faeces of elderly people during my M.S dissertation. In Nepal, I was limited to prevalence studies of pathogens and correlating their prevalence with socioeconomic parameters. However, in order to establish myself as an independent and competent researcher, I always strived for in-depth knowledge and experience at the molecular level, which I wanted to get from a renowned university in the world. Moreover, I wished for carrying out an interdisciplinary research that studies host-pathogen interaction leading to a drug based study to interfere such interaction. So, I joined the interdisciplinary life science program (PULSe) at Purdue University for the doctoral training. Currently, I study about malarial parasite in Dr. LaCount’s lab at the department of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology.
I am very passionate about teaching and have taught the students at the elementary level to the undergraduate level in Nepal. I have served as a lecturer in a medical school in Nepal for four years. So, I want to continue in the academic profession after I graduate.
- Chaney Graduate Student Travel Award. College of Pharmacy, Purdue University. Spring 2015
- Third place (Honorable mention). PULSe Five Minute Thesis Competition. Purdue University. February 2015
- Cecelia Zissis Graduate Student Scholarship. Purdue University. 2014/15
- Certificate of Excellence in Research Award. Interdisciplinary Graduate Program Spring Reception. Purdue University. April 2014
- First place. Health and disease: Science, culture and policy poster session. Purdue University. March 2014
- Bursary. Wellcome Trust Advanced Course: Malaria Experimental Genetics, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hixton, UK. February 2014
- Purdue Graduate Student Government Professional Grant. PGSG, Purdue University. Spring 2014
- PULSe Travel award. PULSe, Purdue University. Spring 2014
- Travel Award. MBL FAPESP USP Joint course on biology of parasitism, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo School of advanced sciences and Sao Paulo research foundation, Brazil. November 2012
- Lynn fellowship. PULSe. Purdue University. 2011/12
- Shakya B. Targeting the erythrocyte cytoskeleton by Plasmodium falciparum exported proteins. Research in progress seminar on infectious diseases. Biology Department, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. April 2014
- Shakya B, Kilili GK, Wang L, LaCount DJ. Identification of the RBC proteins targeted by Plasmodium falciparum exported proteins. Interdisciplinary Graduate Program Spring Reception. Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. April 2014
- Shakya B, Kilili GK, Wang L, LaCount DJ. Identification of the RBC proteins targeted by Plasmodium falciparum exported proteins. Health and disease: Science, culture and policy poster session. Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. March 2014
- Shakya B, Kilili G.K., Wang L and LaCount D.J. Identification of the RBC proteins targeted by Plasmodium falciparum exported proteins. PULSe Welcome Reception. Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. February 2014
- Shakya B, Kilili G.K., Wang L and LaCount D.J. Studying interactions between Plasmodium falciparum exported proteins and erythrocyte cytoskeletal proteins. Next Generation Scholar Fair, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. November 2013
- Kilili G.K., Shakya B., and LaCount D.J. Targeting the red blood cell cytoskeleton by exported Plasmodium falciparum protein. The 2nd Annual Midwest Neglected Infectious Diseases Meeting, University of Notre Dame, IN. August 2012
- Shakya B., Kilili G.K., and LaCount D.J. Identifying interaction partners of plasmodial proteins in RBC cytoskeleton by yeast two hybrid assay. First year poster session and award program. Purdue University, West Lafayette IN. April 2012.
- Activities coordinator. PULSe Graduate Student Organization, Purdue University. 2014/15
- President. Nepalese Society at Purdue, Purdue University. 2014/15
- Treasurer. Nepalese Society at Purdue, Purdue University. 2013/14
- Volunteer. Science in School program, PULSe, Purdue University. Spring 2013
- Judge. Lafayette Regional Science and Engineering Fair, Purdue University. 2013/14
- Secretary. Nepalese Society at Purdue, Purdue University. 2012/13
- Peer Mentor. PULSe, Purdue University. 2012