Flora is originally from Nairobi, Kenya. She got her BS in chemistry from University of Nairobi, where she gained research experience working in Professor Abiy Yenesew’s natural products lab. There she was exposed to the wide array of medicinal plants that are endogenous to Kenya. She worked to extract, isolate, and identify active principles of these plants. Professor Abiy encouraged her to apply for PhD programs in the United States, and she was accepted into University of Arizona in Tucson. There she worked with Dr. John Jewett and developed a new bifunctional crosslinker that allowed investigations of host-pathogen protein interactions. After getting her PhD, she joined the Esser-Kahn lab as a postdoctoral scholar.
"...forget your past failures and successes and look forward..." -- Ms. Muindi, high school teacher.
Currently, Flora examines fundamental questions around innate immune activation. Most vaccines on the market include adjuvants, a key ingredient which stimulates the immune system but also can cause inflammation and other side effects. Flora’s work centers around better understanding the interactions between adjuvant molecules and immune cells and developing adjuvants that can be effective without side effects.
Kimani FW, Ajit J, Galluppi A, Manna S, Howitz WJ, Tang S, Esser-Kahn AP. ACS Chem. Biol. 2021, 16, 2, 380–388. Feb 1, 2021. doi: 10.1021/acschembio.0c00924
Determining Whether Agonist Density or Agonist Number Is More Important for Immune Activation via Micoparticle Based Assay
Deak P, Kimani F, Cassaidy B, Esser-Kahn A. Determining Whether Agonist Density or Agonist Number Is More Important for Immune Activation via Micoparticle Based Assay. Front Immunol. 2020;11:642. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.00642. eCollection 2020. PubMed PMID: 32328073; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7161694.