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Meet our FIRST Faculty

Ashira Blazer

Ashira Blazer, MD

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology
FIRST Cluster Area: Microbiology/Immunology/Infectious Disease

Dr. Blazer's research interests are in studying the biologic and genetic determinants of systemic lupus erythematosus severity in patients of African ancestry. Her current work focuses on mutations in the Apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) gene, which are exceptionally common in those of West African heritage and increase the risk of kidney and heart disease. She has forged multiple international collaborations with rheumatology programs in West Africa, and through this work has shown that APOL1 variant carriers with SLE experience hypertension, advanced kidney disease, and tissue injury. By studying the interplay between chronic inflammation, cellular function, and APOL1 gene expression, Dr. Blazer aims to provide personalized treatment options to the most vulnerable of patients. See Dr. Blazer's faculty profile for more.

portrait of Amed Ouattara

Amed Ouattara, PhD, MSc, PharmD

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Geographic Medicine, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health
FIRST Cluster Area: Microbiology/Immunology/Infectious Disease

Dr. Amed Ouattara is a trained molecular epidemiologist and the Director of the Molecular Epidemiology course at UMB. Dr Ouattara is the team leader of The Malaria Preclinical Vaccine Development Unit (MPVD) within the Malaria Research Program at the UMB Center for Vaccine Development. The unit seeks to identify new antigens and assess the potential of novel antigens and adjuvants to induce immune responses that can inhibit parasite function. MPVD evaluates novel proteins and vaccines through rigorous preclinical studies, including liver stage development assays, growth inhibition assays, and standard membrane feeding assays, striving to design new vaccines and enhance their efficacy. See Dr. Ouattara's faculty profile for more information.