Elizabeth Wanja, PhD

Elizabeth W Wanja, PhD, Major, Army

Name: Elizabeth W Wanja, PhD, Major, Army

USU Department of Primary Appointment: 
Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics
Faculty Rank: 
Assistant Professor
Location: 
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD

Research Interests:
Vector and Vector-borne Disease Pathogen Surveillance, Detection, Prevention and Control
Development and Fielding of Vector-borne Prevention and Control Personal Protective Materials

Office Phone: 
(301) 295-3731

Education

University of Jos, Nigeria- 1985-1989- BS: BIOLOGY/EDUCATION
University of Jos, Nigeria- 1991-1994- MS: APPLIED ENTOMOLOGY & PARASITOLOGY
University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada- 1998-2002-PhD- ENTOMOLOGY
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA -2003-2004- MS-MEDICAL ENTOMOLOGY

Biography

I have extensive experience in basic and applied research on disease vectors and infectious disease pathogens of military importance. For the last 10 years as a research entomologist, I have been involved in research, development and evaluation of products for protecting the War-fighter from vector- borne diseases and nuisance biting insects. I spearheaded the development and fielding of field deployable vector pathogen Immunochromatographic lateral assays for Rift valley fever virus, Dengue virus, and Leishmania major. These assays now form part of the Army Preventive Medicine Medical Equipment sets. In addition, I have collaborated with host nation partners within AFRICOM and Pacific Theaters, foreign militaries, inter agency partners, private industry, and regional academic research institutions to train, conduct research and strengthen relationships needed to address arthropod-borne disease threats. I have managed more than 60 research projects with an annual budget exceeding $4.6 million, resulting in multiple publications in peer reviewed journals. I’m a recipient of the German Academic Exchange Service Grant (DAAD); Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship and fellowship; World Bank, Agricultural Research Fund; University of Guelph, Environmental Science Dean’s award; and University of Jos, Nigeria Graduate Student Dean’s award. I'm a member of the Military Acquisition Corp and also Level II Science and Technology Manager certification. As a military service member, I have received a number of awards to include Meritorious Service Ribbon- Two Oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal- single oak leave cluster, Iraqi Campaign Medal and Army Achievement Medal.

Representative publications, projects, and/or deployments

  • Deputy Chief, DEPT of Entomology, Armed Forces Institute of Medical Sciences, Bangkok, Thailand. 2015-2018. Conducted research on disease vectors and pathogens of military importance in Asia. Planned and executed military medical research budgets, and collaborated with host nation partners, foreign militaries, interagency partners, private industry, and regional academic research institutions to conduct research and strengthen relationships needed to address disease threats in the region.
  • Director, Malaria Diagnostics Center/ Chief, Dept of Entomology, US Army Medical Research Unit, Kenya. 2011-2015. Ensured effective running of the Departments; Conducted research on disease vectors and infectious diseases of military importance in Kenya, Sudan and Tanzania; Developed and implemented malaria diagnostics EQA plan; and Coordinated training of African countries’ military personnel in malaria diagnostics and entomology in support of African Command (AFRICOM) Malaria Task Force.
  • Deputy Chief, Dept of Vector Biology, Walter Reed Army Medical Research Institute, Silver Spring, MD. 2010-2011. Conducted lab and field research on effectiveness of lures (attractants), traps, and spatial repellents for capture or repellency of disease vectors. Field tested new topical repellents, bed nets and permethrin-treated fabrics for PPE against disease vector and nuisance bites; and evaluated field-deployable CO2 generators for vector surveillance in deployment and contingency operations.
  • Chief, Dept of Immunodiagnostics, WRAIR, 2009-2010. Responsible for the development and evaluation of new assays for detection of arthropod-borne pathogens including, but not limited to, Leishmania, Dengue virus, Rift Valley Fever virus, and Chikungunya; provided technical assistance to the Armed Forces Pest Management Board Diagnostics Committee on the development, evaluation and fielding of vector pathogen rapid diagnostic tests; Served as COR for 10 SBIR vector-pathogen assay developers.
  • Executive Officer, 926 PM detachment, a Corp level preventive medicine detachment, Fort Benning, GA. 2004-2007. In charge of Entomology and environmental health surveillance in the unit in garrison and deployment settings; provided information on how to protect soldiers from insects of medical importance to the Base commander; and trained soldiers in trapping and identification and disease surveillance of mosquito and other harmful insects.
  • Executive Officer, 926 PM detachment, Forward Deployed to Camp Speicher, Iraq in support of OIF. 2007-2008. Conducted vector, rodent and vector-borne pathogen surveillance within the Multi -National Division North consisting of the northern part of IRAQ. Advised commanders on PPM to be enforced among the deployed troops in order to reduce vector-borne diseases; treated soldiers’ uniforms with permethrin; supervised food service facilities for cleanliness and arthropod vectors and rodent exclusion.
  • Deputy Chair, Zoology Department, Jomo Kenyatta University. 1994-2002. Responsible for field, laboratory and classroom studies in entomology. Taught undergraduate courses in Biology, Zoology and Horticultural sciences; organized departmental meetings; served as the Dept Research coordinator and as a students' academic adviser; conducted research in collaboration with Center for Biotechnology, and coordinated students' ecological field trips.
  • Lecturer, Zoology Department, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya. 1992-1993.Taught undergraduate courses in General biology, Parasitology, Entomology, and General Zoology in class sizes that ranged from 20 to 120 students.
  • Graduate assistant, Zoology department, University Of Jos, Jos, Nigeria. 1991-1992. Supervised laboratory work, marked assignments and conducted tutorials.
  • Head of Science Department, Arya Boys high School, Nairobi, Kenya. 1990-1991. Taught, examined and conducted laboratory sessions for high school students in Biology and Chemistry; organized students for National Science competitions; organized departmental meetings; and prepared purchase orders for laboratory chemicals and equipment.

Bibliography

  • Masakhwe C, Linsuwanon P, Kimita G, Mutai B, Leepitakrat S, Yalwala S, Abuom D, Auysawasi N, Gilbreath T, Wanja E, Waitumbi J. Identification and characterization of Orientia chuto in trombiculid chigger mites collected from wild rodents in Kenya. 2018. J Clin Microbiol. 56(12): e01124-18.
  • Piyada Linsuwano, Panadda Krairojananan, Wuttikon Rodkvamtook, Surachai Leepitakrat, Silas Davidson, Elizabeth Wanja. Surveillance for Scrub Typhus, Rickettsial Diseases, and Leptospirosis in US and Multinational Military Training Exercise Cobra Gold Sites in Thailand. U.S. Army Medical Department Journal 2018, (1-18): 29-39.
  • Wuttikon Rodkvamtook, Narupon Kuttasingkee, Piyada Linsuwanon, Yutthapong Sudsawat, Allen L. Richards, Maneerat Somsri, Noppadon Sangjun, Chien-Chung Chao, Silas Davidson, Elizabeth Wanja, and Jariyanart Gaywee. 2018. Scrub Typhus Outbreak in Chonburi Province, Central Thailand, 2013, Emerg Infec Dis. 24(2): 361–365.
  • Siriporn Phasomkusolsil, Kanchana Pantuwatana, Jaruwan Tawong, Yossasin Kertmanee, Nantaporn Monkanna, Elizabeth W Wanja and Silas A Davidson. 2018.Evaluation of a new device for measuring the appropriate food quantity required for optimal developmental time, adult body size, and reduced mortality in insectary-reared Anopheles mosquitoes. International Journal of Mosquito Research 2018; 5(6): 43-50
  • Siriporn Phasomkusolsil, Jaruwan Tawong, Sakon Khaosanorh, Elizabeth W. Wanja, Heung-Chul Kim, Terry A. Klein and Silas A. Davidson. 2018. Colonization and Maintenance of Anopheles belenrae and Anopheles pullus from the Republic of Korea. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, 34(4):260–264.
  • Collins Morang’a, Cyrus Ayieko, George Awinda, Rachel Achilla, Caroline Moseti, Bernhards Ogutu, John Waitumbi and Elizabeth Wanja. 2018. Stabilization of RDT target antigens present in dried Plasmodium falciparum-infected samples for validating malaria rapid diagnostic tests at the point of care. Malaria Journal 2018, 17:10.
  • Siriporn Phasomkusolsil, Kanchana Pantuwatana, Jaruwan Tawong, Weeraphan Khongtak, Yossasin Kertmanee, Nantaporn Monkanna, Sakon Khaosanorh, Elizabeth W. Wanja, and Silas A. Davidson. 2017. Sugar and Multivitamin Diet Effects on the Longevity and Mating Capacity of Laboratory-Reared Male Anopheline Mosquitoes. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association 33(3):175-183.
  • Fredrick Odhiambo, Ann M. Buff, Collins Moranga, Caroline M. Moseti, Jesca Okwara Wesongah, Sara A. Lowther, Wences Arvelo, Tura Galgalo, Thomas O. Achia, Zeinab G. Roka, Waqo Boru, Lily Chepkurui, Bernhards Ogutu, and Elizabeth Wanja. 2017. Factors associated with malaria microscopy diagnostic performance following a pilot quality-assurance programme in health facilities in malaria low-transmission areas of Kenya. Malaria journal 16:371.
  • Joseph Osoga, John Waitumbi, Bernard Guyah, James Sande, Cornel Arima, Michael Ayaya, Caroline Moseti, Collins Morang’a, Martin Wahome, Rachel Achilla, George Awinda, Nancy Nyakoe and Elizabeth Wanja. 2017. Comparative evaluation of fluorescent in situ hybridization and Giemsa microscopy with quantitative real-time PCR technique in detecting malaria in a holoendemic region of Kenya. Malaria Journal; 16:297
  • Elizabeth Wanja, Rachel Achilla, Peter Obare, Rose Adeny, Caroline Moseti, Victor Otieno, Collins Morang’a, Ephantus Murigi, John Nyamuni, Derek R. Monthei, Bernhards Ogutu, Ann M. Buff. 2017. Evaluation of a laboratory quality assurance pilot programme for malaria diagnostics in low-transmission areas of Kenya, 2013. Malar J. 2017; 16: 221.