Discovering the mechanisms and targets of immunity against malaria

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Masters by Research
Department / Centre
Burnet Institute
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof James Beeson 9282 2111 Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Herbert Opi 92822111
Dr Linda Reiling 9282 2111

Summary Conduct immunologic assays to understand the mechanisms of protective immunity to malaria and identify key targets. This knowledge will be use to inform vaccine development

Project Details

Antibodies are an important component of acquired immunity against malaria, as demonstrated in pivotal studies in which immunoglobulin G (IgG) from immune adults was transferred to malaria-infected children and resulted in clearance of infection. The mechanisms of protection and specific target epitopes of protective immunity are not well understood, yet this knowledge is crucial for developing highly effective vaccines against malaria. In recent studies, we have begun to uncover important roles for antibodies that can directly inhibit host-cell infection, interact with immune cells to kill and clear malaria, or recruit complement to neutralise infection.

The aims of this project include identifying key targets of protective immunity (specific antigens and epitopes) and the quantifying the importance of specific mechanisms mediating immunity. This knowledge is crucial for the development of effective vaccines against malaria. The project may combine detailed studies of immune responses with clinical and population studies in Africa, Asia, and Papua New Guinea. It will examine how immune responses protect children from malaria, or protect pregnant women and their developing babies from the devastating consequences of malaria in pregnancy.

The studies would particularly focus on using innovative approaches to understand how antibodies neutralise and clear malaria parasites in the blood, including interactions with monocytes/macrophages, neutrophils, and dendritic cells, and identifying specific epitopes targeted by protective antibodies. Skills may involve assays of functional immunity, cell culture, isolation and analysis of immune cells, flow cytometry, western blotting, ELISA, and epitope mapping. The project will be tailored to best match the
student’s interests and training background.

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Child Health in Medicine

Research Opportunities

PhD students, Masters by Research
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department / Centre


Research Node

Burnet Institute

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