Aimalohi Agnes Ahonkhai, MD, MPH

2016 DICP Faculty Fellowship Recipient

Richelle C. Charles, MD, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School; Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital

Richelle CharlesMentor: Edward T. Ryan, DTM&H, MD, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital

Department Chair: Stephen B. Calderwood MD, Morton N. Swartz, MD Academy Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Massachusetts General Hospital

Project Title: “Development of a Rapid Point-of-Care Diagnostic for Infectious Pathogens”

Project Description:

There is a critical need for the development of a diagnostic platform that can rapidly ascertain whether a patient is infected and the identity of the infecting pathogen.  Lack of accessible, rapid, and simple diagnostic assays for infectious diseases limits our ability to get accurate figures on disease burden, complicates the targeted administration of appropriate antimicrobials, and is a major obstacle to surveillance, control and prevention programs.  New alternative approaches diagnostic assays and surveillance tools are needed.  I propose to develop a point-of-care diagnostic approach using a nano-magnetic assay system to identify pathogen (antigen)-specific leukocytes in infected humans. This approach is novel, rapid, and culture-free and can be applied to a wide range of human pathogens (bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic).


Dr. Richelle C. Charles is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a physician-scientist in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).  Dr. Charles received her Bachelor’s degree in General Biology from the University of Maryland, College Park and a Doctorate in Medicine from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  She completed her residency in internal medicine at MGH in 2006; and in 2009, completed the clinical infectious disease fellowship in the Infectious Disease Fellowship Training Program of MGH and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  Dr. Charles’ research is focused on decreasing the global burden of mucosal and enteric infections of import affecting resource-poor and marginalized populations.  More specifically, her work involves the application of high-trough proteomic and genomic technologies to further our understanding of host-pathogen and immune responses during human infection by V. cholerae (the cause of cholera) and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi and Paratyphi A (the primary cause of enteric fever) and to identify immunogenic antigens for vaccine and diagnostic development.  She has ongoing collaborations with the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh and with Partners In Health in Haiti.