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Akhtar, Dr. Marjahan

Assistant Scientist
Enteric and Respiratory Infections
Infectious Diseases Division
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"I am intrigued by the host immune response against enteric infections and currently involved in identifying cellular and humoral immunological parameters induced by COVID-19 vaccines and natural infections"

My research interests focuses on host immune responses against enteric diseases, a major problem in Bangladesh and also a cause of child morbidity, mortality and stunting. At icddr,b, I am involved in different studies, under guidance from my mentor Dr. Firdausi Qadri, and am trying to identify the role of B cells and T cells mediated immune responses using a variety of approaches including ELISA, ELISPOT and flowcytometric. in diarrheal patients, particularly caused by Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC) and other intestinal pathogens. During my PhD research work, I gained a thorough understanding of vaccine-induced mucosal immune responses by working with world-renowned experts in the field. Recently, I have worked on a large clinical trial of an oral inactivated ETEC vaccine (ETVAX) in Bangladesh and also studied the effect of mucosal adjuvant on different immune cells. My research is currently focused on defining the nature of protective immunity that follows ETEC infections and molecular and immunologic characterization of lead ETEC candidate molecules for designing an effective vaccine. Currently, during the Covid-19 pandemic, I am involved in a number of different seroprevalence studies of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in Bangladesh and also identifying cellular and humoral immune responses, including memory cell responses in COVID patients with different degrees of disease severity.

Why I work at icddr,b:

As a research-based organization, icddr,b is the best place in Bangladesh for its excellence in research, especially in my preferred field of diarrhoeal diseases, immunological studies, and vaccine research. icddr,b provides me the platform for research capacity, mentoring, and collaboration to reach my goals and to develop my identity. As a female researcher, I always feel fortunate to work at icddr,b.

Future Plans:

Enteric diseases disproportionately impacts on  children coming from low economic backgrounds in Bangladesh, where basic human needs of clean water and sanitation remain unmet. My long-term plan involves doing research in the context of public health issues with state-of-the-art immunological methods. I want to develop myself as an immunologist to explore and address important questions relevant to infectious diseases including ETEC vaccinology.

2019 till date

Assistant Scientist, Enteric and Respiratory Infections, Infectious Diseases Division, icddr,b

2016 - 2019

Senior Research Officer, Enteric and Respiratory Infections, Infectious Diseases Division, icddr,b

2014 - 2019

PhD, Collaborative program between University of Dhaka, icddr,b and University of Gothenburg, Sweden

2013 - 2014

Research Officer, icddr,b

2011 - 2012

MSc, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Dhaka

2007 - 2010

BSc, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Dhaka