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Chiamaka Okoye

Graduate Student, Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology

Timothy Cover (Thesis)

Celestine Wanjalla (Clinical)

Sharon Onguti (Clinical)

The main goal of my research is to elucidate the mechanisms by which the bacterium Helicobacter pylori causes gastric diseases and cancer. The World Health Organization classified H. pylori as a Group 1 carcinogen and as of 2020, stomach cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. H. pylori strains producing the oncoprotein CagA, which gets injected into gastric cells lining the stomach using a type IV secretion system, have been linked with the development of stomach cancer. There are several unanswered questions pertaining to how CagA is recruited to and delivered across the bacterial secretion system into host cells, and several parts of the structure of the secretion system machinery have not yet been determined. My research projects aim to fill in some of these gaps in knowledge to uncover the different protein interactions driving H. pylori pathogenesis of gastric cancer. This knowledge will be crucial for the identification of novel therapeutic targets for H. pylori infections.