Kaleb Asfaha

PhD Candidate
Ocular Inflammatory, Immune and Wound Healing Responses

WHERE I'M FROM

I was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and grew up in Washington D.C., but I’ve called California my home for the past decade.

BEFORE VS

I studied Chemistry at University of California Santa Barbara for my undergraduate degree. In June 2013 I graduated from the Chemistry MS program at San Francisco State University. During that gap I enjoyed working for a number of pharmaceutical companies in the Bay Area.

WHY I’M HERE

I worked in the Drug Delivery department at Genentech, which focused on applications directed at treating ocular diseases. For the first time in my career I found something I loved! I came to UC Berkeley to explore how the ocular surface protects itself from pathogens and strengthen my background in mass spectrometry analysis.

MY RESEARCH

My research focuses on understanding the innate pathways activated during a conjunctival Chlamydia trachomatis infection and how lipid-derived mediators called eicosanoids are involved during an inflammatory response. The bacterial infection can lead to trachoma, an ocular surface condition with over 50 million visually impaired and 6 million irreversibly blind worldwide. I use primary human cells and clinical samples collected from global endemic regions to study trachoma.

MY GOALS

I’ve always envisioned my future as a researcher at an academic institution. After graduation I plan on securing a post-doc position in a lab that focuses on anterior ocular infections common in developing nations. Also, I am passionate about providing me services in the public health sector to create meaningful solutions to problems that plague marginalized members of our global community.

MY HOBBIES

On a sunny California day I enjoy riding my bike, playing pick-up basketball, learning how to play a musical instrument, or going hiking/camping.

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