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MSU’s Terrie Taylor battles the “Voldemort of parasites” in the African nation of Malawi

Michigan State University
Terrie Taylor

Terrie Taylor, B.A., D.O., is an internationally recognized expert on malaria and other tropical diseases. Six months of the year, Taylor works in Malawi, Africa conducting research and treating patients. She is a driving force in the global initiative to eliminate malaria deaths.

She joins Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis on MSU Today.

“My unusual schedule has made such a difference in terms of my credibility in Malawi, and it is so emblematic of the way MSU works abroad:  embedded, grass roots, and shoulder-to-shoulder with colleagues,” says Taylor.

She says what’s distinguished her work “is that the work has all emanated from bedside observation. Thirty one years ago when we started the project, the disease was largely unstudied. We started by actually clinically and carefully describing the disease. And from there we developed hypotheses.”

With the help of Dr. E. James Potchen in the MSU Department of Radiology and General Electric Healthcare, the first magnetic resonance imaging unit (MRI) in Malawi was brought to the hospital. The MRI has been invaluable for treating patients and conducting research. She and her team have saved countless lives. But she says there is more to learn.

“The privilege I've enjoyed over 30 years of being able to stay focused on one disease (cerebral malaria in kids), following a series of bedside observations, moving from a basic clinical characterization to where we are now - a sophisticated understanding of why kids are dying, based on neuro-imaging – leads me to believe I have the best job at Michigan State.”

MSU Today airs Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on 94.5 FM and AM 870.

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