NIH awards $3.3 million grant to tropical disease researcher

KENNESAW, Ga. | Apr 9, 2021

Kojo Mensa-Wilmot
Kojo Mensa-Wilmot

Kojo Mensa-Wilmot, professor 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.

“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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