‘Sleeping Sickness’: $ 3.3m Grant Awarded To Ghanaian Professor For Research

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Professor Kojo Mensa-Wilmot of molecular and cellular biology in Kennesaw State University’s College of Science and Mathematics, has received a five-year, $3.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue his work on human African trypanosomiasis, a disease found in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mensa-Wilmot’s research is geared toward understanding the basic biology and developing a drug to cure the disease.

He is a globally recognized expert on Trypanosoma brucei, the single-celled organism that causes the disease. Nearly 60 million people are at risk for human African trypanosomiasis.

Tsetse flies spread the disease-causing parasite among human and animal populations in rural Africa through bites, according to the World Health Organization.

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“Our research is bringing the day closer when the suffering and death of patients with human African trypanosomiasis — which is often referred to as sleeping sickness — is greatly reduced,” said Mensa-Wilmot.

“This NIH grant is important for the next phase of research. I am grateful to have this support for five years as we progress toward more effective treatments and a better understanding of the chemical biology of trypanosomes.”

Mensa-Wilmot’s cellular biology research will serve as a foundation for treating other diseases caused by other parasites related to trypanosomes.

Mensa-Wilmot became dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at Kennesaw State in August 2020. The NIH funding supports research in collaboration with Professor Michael Pollastri through 2026.

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