Science Scenes: Central and East Africa
March 2, 2020: Ever wonder what scientists are up to behind the scenes, when they are not consumed with crunching data, or endlessly editing papers for publication? They just may be traveling in far-flung places — hunting for data and building relationships with the people and places they study. This is the second photo essay in an occasional series, Science Scenes, in which we invite you to explore how EPI's faculty and affiliate researchers work across the globe.
Rhoel Dinglasan, Ph.D., is a malaria investigator with the Emerging Pathogens Institute and UF College of Veterinary Medicine who seeks to design a saliva-based rapid diagnostic test for malaria. (For more on that, read Malaria’s Spit Solution.) This line of inquiry takes him out of his lab and into central and east African countries — such as Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania — where his team collects saliva samples from school children and community members. The first step of this field work always involves meeting with community members, as shown above beneath a large mango tree in Yombo, Tanzania. (Photo taken in February 2020.)
Community meetings include people from the town or village, including influential individuals and village elders, as shown in this image above from Mwazi, Tanzania. During the meeting, the field team describes the study’s purpose and the process of informed consent, so that individuals may consider enrolling themselves or their children in the malaria study. The field teams vary from 6-30 people depending upon the region, project and season.
Here, blood drawn from a finger prick is used to test for malaria at the Ecole Catholique de NKILZOK in Cameroon. (October 2013)
Dinglasan’s field team often works in areas with limited resources. This lab is part of a local clinic in Bu, within the Kinshasa Province, in Democratic Republic of the Congo. Limited electricity means that only microscopy is performed here, Dinglasan says.
Materials in this lab, located in the Salvation Army’s Centre De Sante Bomoi clinic in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, are used to make thin and thick blood smears for microscopy analysis. A portion of a blood sample is applied to the currently-available rapid diagnostic test (the rectangular yellow, while and blue box), while another portion from the same sample is preserved and stored for transport back to the U.S. for nucleic acid and molecular analyses.
Dinglasan believes in giving back to the communities in which he works. Since 2006, he has collaborated on research in Cameroon with Isla Morlais, Ph.D. (center, in the scarf) who is affiliated with the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement. But the pair have also jointly trained many Cameroonian PhDs, pictured here, who earned their degrees through a program in Montpellier, France. Dinglasan says many of these graduates now run the program in Cameroon and he collaborates with them on an on-going basis. (October 2013)
This child was brought to Dinglasan’s laboratory in Yaoundé, Cameroon in October 2013 where he provided saliva for study. The lab is housed in the OCEAC annex (Organisation de Coordination pour la lutte contre les End mies en Afrique Centrale).
This prep room is part of the OCEAC in Yaoundé, Cameroon. While spartan, Dinglasan points out that the large windows allow the team to keep working even when the electricity blinks out.
Dinglasan says his team will often make use of an empty classroom or meeting hall — even an empty table, such as this one in Kimpoko, Kinshasa Province of Democratic Republic of the Congo — to set up a make-shift screening are for collecting saliva or blood samples for his study.