Dr. Sam Loker: Funded to Fight Pervasive African Parasite


Posted: Jul 14, 2017 - 10:00am

Dr. Sam Loker

In parts of sub-Saharan Africa, as many as 90 percent of village children are infected with a debilitating and potentially fatal neglected tropical disease called schistosomiasis. Around the world, more than 220 million cases persist, mostly in Africa, despite considerable efforts over the years to control the effects. It’s a disease researchers at The University of New Mexico are working hard to combat.

UNM Distinguished Professor of Biology Eric S. Loker began studying the parasite that causes this disease more than three decades ago and is widely considered one of the world’s foremost experts in this field. Loker was recently awarded a five-year, $1.9-million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue his work in Africa.

“We’re looking at a particular parasite, Schistosoma mansoni, in and around Lake Victoria, in Kenya,” said Loker. “Lake Victoria is one of the world’s great endemic foci of schistosomiasis. So, we’re looking at why this parasite is so pervasive there and what can be done about it?”

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