Flore N’guessan, Ph.D. recently joined MHRP as a post-doctoral fellow in the Innate Immunology laboratory. After completing her Ph.D. she was interested in joining a team at the forefront of research headed towards an effective HIV vaccine. She is particularly interested in understanding the role of innate immunology in HIV response to vaccine with the end goal being to inform effective HIV vaccine strategies.
Flore has always loved science and became specifically interested in HIV research in high school because “HIV is a stigmatized pathogen with no cure taking the lives of hundreds of thousands of persons around the world” she said. “With the success of antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV is largely treatable but the stigma and disparity in access to treatment remains a hindrance to successful HIV treatment in many communities – like in Southern Africa, where I grew up. Being an HIV researcher allows me to use my love for science and research to assist in the development and optimization of effective HIV vaccine strategies.”
As a postdoc, Flore enjoys filling in the gaps in her technical knowledge of the HIV vaccine research field. She said “being a postdoc also allows me to refine my research goals as I come to a fuller understanding of the direction the HIV vaccine field is moving. I also enjoy learning from the talented scientists and experts at MHRP.”
Flore received her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she was an undergraduate research assistant in a lab developing and investigating the use of RNA aptamers to inhibit HIV reverse transcriptase. She went on to receive her Ph.D. in pathobiology and molecular medicine at the University of Cincinnati. During her time as a graduate research assistant, she researched the impact of human pegivirus (HPgV) on CD4+ T cell count in HIV-positive persons from resource-scarce countries including Ghana and Botswana. In addition, her Ph.D. dissertation investigated the function of phosphatidylserine (PS) externalization in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), specifically elucidating mechanisms of regulation to identify effective combination therapies.