Human schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease affecting over 218 million people worldwide, is caused by blood flukes of the genus Schistosoma. Schistosomes have a complex life cycle that involves several parasitic larval stages that infect either the human definitive host or the snail intermediate host. The surface of schistosomes is covered by a syncytial cytoplasmic tegument, which is believed to have a role in complex host-parasite interactions. The schistosome tegument has an unusual structure and its double membrane, comprised of two closely apposed lipid bilayers, contains lipid raft like structures and caveolae. Lipid rafts are dynamic detergent-insoluble cholesterol and sphingolipid-rich micro-domains present in the plasma membrane that are important in cell signalling, intracellular trafficking and regulation of apoptosis. Thus, this project aims to explore in detail the cellular biology of the schistosome tegument during the cercaria to somule transformation, particularly in the context of lipid raft signalling.
Being born and raised in a developing country with limited access to health services, I always wanted a career in Life Sciences. I started my journey by commencing BSc in Biomedical Science at Kingston University. I then wanted to expand my knowledge further, which led me to join MSc in Biomedical Science. I knew the next step towards shaping my career was to undertake a PhD but prior to that, I undertook MSc in Project Management at the University of Salford to gain insights into project management, which plays a crucial role in a researcher's life. I am now in the third year of my PhD.