PFDD Faculty Fellows Alumni - 2016


Natasha Archer

Natasha M. Archer, MD, MPH, 
Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School;
Department of Pediatrics, Boston Children's Hospital

Mentor: David Nathan, MD, Robert A. Stranahan Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; President Emeritus, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Division Chief: David A. Williams, MD, Leland Fikes Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; Chief, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, Boston Children's Hospital

Project Title“The Effect of Fetal Hemoglobin on Plasmodium Falciparum Invasion and Growth”

Project DescriptionP. falciparum, the deadliest of malaria parasites, massively but sequentially degrades hemoglobin subunits beginning with plasmepsin I and II cleavage at α 33-34. Fetal hemoglobin (HbF) is composed of 2 α and 2 γ chains. Due to enhanced α/γ relative to α/β dimer stability, the α chains of HbF may be relatively more resistant to parasitic plasmepsin I and II cleavage as compared to HbA conferring protection from intraerythrocyte growth of P. falciparum to neonates and those with hemoglobinopathies such as hemoglobin (Hb) S, C and E and β-thalassemia, all characterized by high HbF. While others have demonstrated increased invasion but decreased P. falciparum growth in high HbF-containing human and human γ-transgenic murine red cells, the fraction of HbF in erythrocytes required for malaria inhibition, and the mechanism by which HbF exerts this effect, are unknown. Characterizing HbF’s role in P. falciparum infection will help lead to further understanding of how HbF and medications that increase it, such as hydroxyurea, will affect patients with hemoglobinopathies who live in malaria endemic regions.

Biography:  Natasha M. Archer, MD, MPH, is a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, an instructor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and associate physician in the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  She is also the senior health and policy advisor for Hematology at Partners In Health (PIH), a Boston-based non-profit health care organization. Dr. Archer’s research focuses on the delivery of effective hematology care in resource-limited settings. Dr. Archer has helped the PIH team in Mirebalais, Haiti set up a program for newborn screening and disease management for sickle cell disease. Her ongoing clinical research focuses on ways to effectively diagnosis and manage anemia in Haiti. In addition, Dr. Archer’s translational research explores the relationship between hemoglobin and malaria infectivity. Dr. Archer completed her fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s in 2014 and her medicine and pediatrics residency in the Harvard Combined Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Residency training program. She completed the Doris and Howard Hiatt Global Health Equity Residency in 2011. Dr. Archer earned her BS from Yale University in 1999, her MD from Yale University School of Medicine in 2006, and her MPH from Harvard School of Public Health in 2011.