Mobile Malaria Project
About Jason Hendry
Jason is reading for his DPhil in statistical genetics at the University of Oxford, focusing on how malaria genetic data can be leveraged to support malaria control. He is enrolled as part of the four-year Genomic Medicine and Statistics Programme funded by the Wellcome Trust. Prior to Oxford, he studied biochemistry at the University of Toronto, graduating with an H.BSc. and an M.Sc. He joined the Mobile Malaria Project in June 2018 to develop the lab and bioinformatic pipelines that were deployed in field settings during their trip across Africa.
Despite reductions in malaria prevalence in the last two decades, the World Health Organization still reported an estimated 435 thousand deaths in 2017, the majority occurring in children under the age of five. Moreover, continued progress is threatened by emerging drug and insecticide resistance. Our team won the 2019 Land Rover Bursary, supported by the Royal Geographic Society, on a proposal to convert a 2019 Land Rover Discovery into a mobile sequencing lab and drive it 6300km across Africa, from the Atlantic to Indian Ocean. During our journey, we met with local research teams and policy makers striving to combat malaria, and produced materials aiming to raise public awareness and keep malaria on the global development agenda. My role in the project was to develop and pilot the mobile lab which, with local collaborators, we used to sequence antimalarial resistance genes in Zambia, and whole mosquito genomes in Kenya. We hope our project promotes the feasibility of a decentralized approach to pathogen and vector sequencing and marks the beginning of long-term collaborations incorporating in-country nanopore sequencing with policy-directed malaria research.