Dr. O'Meara has been working in the field of malaria diagnosis, treatment, and drug resistance since 2004. She is an Associate Professor at Duke University Medical School in the Division of Infectious Diseases, visiting professor at Moi University, and the Co-Field Director of Research for AMPATH. She has been based full-time in Kenya since 2007.
Dr. O’Meara’s team is interested in improving rational drug use for suspected malaria fevers through expanding the use of diagnostic tools in the community and in health facilities. As many as 90% of fevers that seek treatment in the formal sector receive antimalarials, and it is estimated that only 20% of those buying antimalarials over-the-counter in the retail sector actually have malaria. Such overuse poses a significant threat to the continued efficacy of first-line antimalarials. Dr. O’Meara has conducted several randomized controlled trials in western Kenya to test interventions designed to improve the use of information from malaria diagnostic testing in order to target antimalarials to those with confirmed infection. In 2005, she helped to establish the Malaria Diagnostic Centre of Excellence in Kisumu, Kenya.
Recently, she concluded a case-controlled study with colleagues at Moi University that identified the major determinants of insecticide treated bednet failure in western Kenya. Among other results, the study showed that asymptomatically infected household members may be a risk factor for children living in the same household. Current work is extending this observation by leveraging variability in key parasite genes to describe the spatial mixing of malaria infections and track generations of infections from humans to mosquitoes (collaboration with Steve Taylor’s lab).
Dr. O’Meara has experience in marrying innovative spatial techniques with epidemiologic outcomes. Recent work includes an analysis of health systems factors that contribute to early childhood mortality in sub-Saharan Africa.
Education and Training
- Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2003