Woyneshet Gelaye performed a comprehensive study of soil-transmitted helminths in a district of Northwest Ethiopia

Woyneshet Gelaye defended her PhD thesis

One of the aims of the EDCTP-funded STOP project was to contribute to strengthening the capacity to conduct clinical trials in Africa, including the training of young scientists. This was done by funding and mentoring two PhD students in the African partner institutions (Bahir Dar University in Ehtiopia and CISM in Mozambique), as well as one in Spain (ISGlobal).

On 24 November, Woyneshet Gelaye successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled “Epidemiology, Laboratory Diagnostic Method Optimization, Anthelminthic Drug Efficacy, and Resistance Markers for Soil-Transmitted Helminths in Bahir Dar Zuria District, Northwest Ethiopia”. The study was conducted in four primary schools in Bahir Dar Zuria District and in the community of Zenzelima village. The objectives were to determine the frequency and distribution of soil-transmitted (STH) infections in the region (particularly hookworm and S. stercoralis), to optimise the laboratory methods for their diagnosis, and to investigate the presence of drug-resistance markers in these intestinal parasites.

Five years after the launch of the STOP project, Woyneshet can be proud. “I have achieved the eight specific objectives of my thesis, published one original article and have four other manuscripts ready for submission,” she says. Completing a thesis is no easy task for any PhD student, but it was even less so for Woyneshet, who had to deal with a pandemic and political instability in the country.

“My heartfelt congratulations to Woyneshet for her achievements over the last 5 years as a PhD student and coordinator of the Clinical Trial Laboratory Unit,” says Wendemagegn Enbiale, Professor at Bahir Dar University and Principal Investigator of the ALIVE trial in Ethiopia. “In the face of the challenges posed by the pandemic, war and the added responsibilities of motherhood, Woyneshet has demonstrated exceptional skills in navigating through the milestones required for her PhD work and the clinical trial.”

Woyneshet is the first of the three doctoral students of the project to defend her thesis, but the other two will soon follow in her footsteps. Augusto Messa Jr., a PhD student at the CISM in Mozambique, has had his research project approved by the Doctoral Commission of the University of Barcelona and is currently completing the data analysis for his thesis, in collaboration with the Welcome Sanger Institute. Maria Cambra, enrolled at the University of Barcelona, is working together with ISGlobal and GraphenicaLab to develop new diagnostic tools for strongyloidiasis.