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About Malaria


Pre- and Post-doctoral Fellows that have been awarded JHMRI Fellowships

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Research conducted by JHMRI fellows covers molecular and structural biology,
vaccine development, chemotherapy and entomology.

Predoctoral fellow, Katy Shaw Saliba, is studying the genetics and molecular mechanisms of Plasmodium falicparum gametocytogenesis, an essential component to malaria transmission.

Predoctoral Fellows                 Postdoctoral Fellows                 Visiting Scientists               

Armistead, Jennifer
Anidi, Ifeanyi

Das, Smita
Ferrer, Patricia

Gisselberg, Jolyn
Hain, Ulli
Jayabalasingham, Bamini
ent, Rebekah
Lagasse, Daniel
LeBlanc, Ralph
McLean, Kyle
Noland, Greg
Overstreet, Michael
Pike, Andrew
Pinchoff, Jessie

Radtke, Andrea
Ruben, Adam
Shaw, Katy
Spalding, Maroya
Tse, Eva

Bano, Nazneen
Bosch, Gundula

Brant, Gabriel
Cha, Sung-Jae
Chen, Yang
Chowdhury, Debabani
Cockburn, Ian
deFreitas, Renatos
Hughes, Grant
Kanzok, Stefan
Lu, Jeff Zhiqiang

Ma, Jinxia
Matthews, Krista
Mlambo, Godfree
Pavlovic-Djuranovic, Slavica 
Smith, Ryan
Souza-Neto, Jayme
Tripathi, Abhai
Voss, Christiane
Wang, Sibao

Xi, Zhiyong


Krairojananan, Panadda
Nyakundi, Ruth
Moreira, Luciano
Hawela, Moonga
Dhar, Ravi
Santosh Anand Sripada


Sept 2003

Gregory Noland - Predoctoral
Host Response to Malaria and Helminth Co-Infection: Implications for Natural and Vaccine-Induced Immunity

1. Evaluate host response to malaria during intestinal helminth co-infection

2. Compare relative malaria transmission potential between trematode-co-infected and malaria-only-infected mice

3. Characterize immunologic basis of interactions between intestinal trematodes and malaria parasites

4. Evaluate protection conferred by two candidate malaria vaccines in helminth-infected mice

Sept 2004

Bamini Jayabalasingham-Predoctoral
Elucidating the Molecular Function of Plasmodium falciparum Sexual Stage-Specific Protein Pfg27

1. Identify proteins with which Pfg27 interacts during the process of gametocytogenesis

2. Characterize the nature of the interaction between Pfg27 and interacting protein(s)

3. Investigate the possible role of Pfg27 in translational regulation in P. falciparum 


Jeff Zhiqiang Lu - Postdoctoral
Structure and Inhibition Studies of Plasmodium falciparum KAS Enzymes

1. To investigate the mode of action of PfKASIII inhibitors using biochemical techniques

2. To study the activity of PkFASI/II and test thiolactomycin and the PfKASIII inhibitors for activity against this enzyme

3. To structurally characterize the atomic level interactions of novel KAS inhibitors with PfKASIII enzyme


Rebekah J. Kent-Predoctoral
Malaria Transmission in Macha, Zambia: Entomological Inoculation Rates of Anopheles arabiensis and Anopheles funestus S.S and Vectorial Capacity of An. arabiensis

1. Determine the relative importance of An. arabiensis and An. funestus to P. falciparum transmission in Macha by comparison of their entomological inoculation rates

2. Describe the blood feeding behavior of An. arabiensis in Macha

3. Estimate the efficiency of P. falciparum transmission by An. arabiensis 


Nazneen Bano-Postdoctoral
Identification of the Host Cellular Pathway/s and Parasite Transporter/s Involved in Host Cholesterol Trafficking to Intrahepatic Plasmodium

1.  Identification of the host cellular pathways mediating cholesterol delivery from host cell to intrahepatic parasites

2.  Functional analysis of the role Plasmodium ABCG1 transporter homologues in parasite cholesterol homeostasis


Adam Ruben-Predoctoral
Thermodynamic Characterization of Plasmepsin Family Inhibitors Adaptable against Multiple Targets

1.  Continue designing and screening potential inhibitors of Plm II

2.  Continue to determine the Ki of selected inhibitors against secondary targets Plm I and Plm IV

3.  Crystallize Plms in complex with selected inhibitors

4.  Based on the results of  Specific Aims 1-3, identify candidates for erythrocyte assays. Use the results of those assays to relate structural and thermodynamic properties with in vitro function

5.  Identify inhibitors to test in mouse and monkey models

January 2006

Stefan Kanzok-Postdoctoral
Genetic Analysis of Plasmodium falciparum Gametocyte Formation

1.  Gametocyte reporter strain

2.  Transposon-mediated mutagenesis 

March 2006

Michael Overstreet-Predoctoral
Crosstalk between CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells in Immunity to Malaria

1.  Examine crosstalk between transgenic CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells in response to irradiated sporozoites using an adoptive transfer model

2.  Examine CD8+ T cells behavior in response to peptide immunization in presence or absence of CD4+ T cell activation 


Debabani Chowdhury-Postdoctoral
Evaluation of B cell Responses against Plasmodium falciparum Transmission-blocking Vaccine Antigen (Pfs25) in Naive and Helminth-infected Mice

1.  To evaluate the efficacy of Pfs25 DNA vaccine in production of memory B cells and long-lasting plasma cell (LLPC) responses

2.  To characterize the effectiveness of Pfs25 DNA vaccine in generation of memory B cells and LLPC responses, when the host (mice) is pre-infected with the helminth Heligmosomoides polygyrus (Hp)

3.  To determine the formatin of germinal center (GC) in response to Pfs25 DNA vaccine in mice, which are uninfected or pre-infected with Hp


Zhiyong Xi-Postdoctoral
The role of Anopheles gambiae MD2-like Genes in Innate Immune Defense Against the Human Malaria Parasite

1.  Determination of expression patterns upon infection

2.  Determination of defense specificity

3.  Assessing immune pathway regulatory functions of AGMLs

4.  Assessing the interaction of AGMLs with plasmodium

April 2006

Ralph LeBlanc-Predoctoral
"Development of a Malaria Transmission-Blocking Mono-and Multivalent Vaccine (TBV) Based on Pfs230, Pfs48/45 and Pfs25

1. To determine the immunogenicity of selected antigens by ELISA, IFA and immunoprecipitation (I.P.)

2. To assess functional transmission-blocking activity (TBA) by gamete lysis and membrane feeding assay (MFA)

3. To evaluate combinations of pre- and post-fertilization antigens in a multiple-antigen vaccine

4. To evaluate natural boosting potential of immune responses primed by DNA plasmid vaccine

January 2007

Abhai Tripathi-Postdoctoral
Antigen Presentation Following Infection with Malaria Sporozoites

1.  Identification of dendritic cell subsets involved in presentation of sporozoite antigens to CD8+ T cells

2.  Examine the role of innate immune system components in the development of CD8+ T cell responses

Sept 2007

Maroya Spalding-Predoctoral
The Role of Lipoate Metabolism in P. falciparum Survival

1.  Investigate whether lipoate synthesis is essential in the apicoplast through conditional disruption of lipoylation in this organelle and to use lipoate-disrupted parasites to determine the relationship between lipoate synthesis and fatty acid synthesis

2.  To investigate whether lipoate scavenging is essential in the mitochondrion and the cytosol through conditional disruption of lipoylation, and if lipoate scavenging is essential in the cytosol, to identify the lipoylated protein(s) in this subcellular compartment

January 2008

Sung-Jae Cha-Postdoctoral

1.  Identification and characterization of sporozoite ligands for Kupffer cell invasion

2.  Identification and characterization of putative Kupffer cell receptors

3.  Identification and characterization of human orthologs of Kupffer cell invasion


Ian Cockburn-Postdoctoral

To identify the DCs that present sporozoite antigens to CD8 T cells and how the DC-T cell interactions are influenced by innate responses

November 2008

Gabriel Brandt-Postdoctoral
Plastid DNA Replication in P. falciparum

1.  Production of apicoplast replication proteins: Express and purify the apicoplast-targeted polyprotein Prex in its full-length form, along with its helicase, primase, helicase-primase and polymerase domains. Express and purify the putative apicoplast single-stranded DNA binding protein

2.  Begin reconstitution of plastid genomic replication in vitro: Examine, using mini-circle models of the replication fork, the ability of the helicase-primase and polymerase domains to replicate DNA. Determine the effect of helicase activity and single-stranded DNA binding proteins on polymerase activity

3.  Undertake structural studies of the apicoplast replication proteins: Purify and concentrate Prex helicase, primase, helicase/primase and polymerase domains. Screen for crystallization conditions using sparse matrix methods and liquid-handling robot. Undertake co-crystallization of polymerase domain with primer and template DNA oligomers

January 2009

Godfree Mlambo-Postdoctoral
Development of an Animal Model for Pre-clinical Evaluation of Plasmodium falciparum Transmission-blocking Vaccine (Pfs48/45) Using Transgenic P. berghei Parasites

1.  To make transgenic P. berghei parasites expressing the P. falciparum sexual antigen Pfs48/45

2.  To evaluate sera from non-human primates immunized with the Pfs48/45 vaccine

3.  To test whether natural infection with the transgenic parasite boosts antibodies to the antigen Pfs48/45

4.  To understand fertilization receptor functional conservation between P. berghei and P. falciparum


Jayme Souza-Neto-Postdoctoral
The Generation and Characterization of Immune Pathway Inducible Plasmodium Resistant Transgenic Mosquitoes

1.  Generate an inducible Rel2 construct for the generation of transgenic A. stephensi mosquitoes

2.  Characterize the dox-dependent rtTa-driven induction of the Rel2 factor

3.  Characterize the dox-induced Rel2 mediated resistance to Plasmodium infection at the ookinete stage

4.  Assess the impact of dox-mediated Rel2 activation on mosquito longevity and fecundity


Gundula Bosch-Postdoctoral
Structural and Functional of Iron-Sulfur Proteins in Isoprenoid Biosynthesis and Utilization in Plasmodium falciparum

1.  To produce and characterize the IspG, IspH and MiaB enzymes

2.  To reveal the active site architecture and catalytic mechanism of IspG, IspH and MiaB

Sept 2009

Ifeanyi Anidi-Predoctoral
Malaria and Lung Macrophages

1.  To definite the phenotypic and functional consequences that malaria infection has on the lung-derived macrophages

2.  To determine the role that lung macrophages play in the pathogenesis of pulmonary malaria

January 2010

Daniel Lagasse-Predoctoral
The role of lung macrophages in the control of malaria-induced pulmonary inflammation

1.  Dynamics of immune cell influx into the lungs upon malaria infection

2.  Selective depletion of lung macrophages

3.  Selective depletion of lung macrophages during P. berghei infection

4.  Adoptive transfer of macrophages into the lungs


Katy Shaw-Predoctoral
Genetic Analysis of Plasmodium falciparum Gametocytogenesis

1.  Transposon-mediated mutagenesis and screening for genes involved in gametocytogenesis

2.  Interesting genes identified by the mutagenesis screen

3.  Hypothesis about the function of Class I genes


Eva Tse-Predoctoral
Migration and Residency of Antigen Specific Memory CD8+ T cells in the Liver 

1.  To characterize the expression pattern of homing and adhesion molecules on antigen specific CD8+ T cells in the liver 

2. To investigate the functional role of selected homing and adhesion molecules of antigen specific CD8+ T cells in the liver

3. To investigate the proliferation, circulation and renewal properties of memory CD8+ T cells establishing residence in the liver Background and Significance: Our laboratory has demonstrated that the priming of antigen specific CD8+ T cells first occurs at skin

July 2010

Grant Hughes-Postdoctoral
Introduction of Wolbachia into Anopheles gambiae and Modulation of Plasmodium Vector Competence

1. Artificially trans-infect Anopheles gambiae with Wolbachia. Trans-infections will be performed with two strains of Wolbachia (wMelPop and wAlbB), which have been pre-adapted to Anopheles in cell culture

2. Characterize the novel Wolbachia-Anopheles association. Transmission rates, life-shortening and reproductive manipulations on the host will be assessed in the mosquito. Additionally, the distribution of Wolbachia within the mosquito will be characterized. Anopheles gene expression in response to Wolbachia infection will be analyzed in whole mosquitoes by microarrays

3. Determine Wolbachia-Plasmodium interactions. Wolbachia infected mosquitoes will be challenged with Plasmodium and development of the parasite analyzed to determine if Wolbachia interferes with parasite development and transmission

January 2011

Jinxia Ma-Postdoctoral
Development of efficient anti-malaria vaccines

1.  Analysis of susceptibility of parasite-infected hepatocytes to granzyme B

2. Identification of mechanisms of resistance to perforin


Jennifer Armistead-Predoctoral
Mechanism of action of a mosquito-based malaria transmission-blocking vaccine

1.  Characterize the APN1-ookinete molecular interaction

2.  Identify protective epitopes of the NT135APN1 fragment


Jolyn Gisselberg-Predoctoral
Iron Sulfur Cluster Synthesis in the Apicoplast of Plasmodium falciparum

1.  Determine the subcellular location and activity of Suf pathway proteins

2.  Probe the essentiality of the Suf pathway using reverse genetic approaches


Sibao Wang-Postdoctoral
Engineering symbiotic bacteria as a delivery system to block Plasmodium transmission by the mosquito

1.  Select for bacteria that are well adapted to the mosquito midgut and are vertically transmitted

2.  Engineer symbiotic bacteria to secret anti-malarial effector molecules

3.  Test blocking efficiency of effector molecules produced by the engineered bacteria

March 2011

 Slavica Pavlovic-Djuranovic-Postdoctoral
Biological comparison between chimpanzee Plasmodium reichenowi and human Plasmodium falciparum

1.  Developing in vitro culturing conditions for P. reichenowi in chimpanzee and human erythrocytes

2.  Cultivation of P. reichenowi gametocytes for mosquito infectivity studies

3.  Identify differences between P. falciparum and P. reichenowi using comparative transcriptional analysis

4.  Develop in vitro culturing conditions for P. falciparum isolated from bonobo chimpanzees

January 2012

Adelaide (Ulli) Hain-Predoctoral
Targeting Atg8 and its essential interactions in the malaria parasite

1.  Characterize Plasmodium Atg8's role in autophagy

2.  Identify novel functions of Atg8 in Plasmodium

3.  Develop specific inhibitors against Atg8 and its crucial interactions


Krista Matthews-Postdoctoral

Characterization of Plasmodium falciparum ELO3 in fatty acid elongation and its role in gametocytogenesis

1.  Determine the role of ELO3 and its protein domains in gametocytogenesis using reverse genetics

2.  Characterize the localization, elongase activity and substrate specificity of ELO3 class="Normal" 

August 2012

Christiane Voss-Postdoctoral

1.  Determine whether the membranous structures enveloping sporozoite organelles are functional autophagosomes

2.  Provide mechanistic insights into the specificity of the PbAtg8-conjugation system that is activated during sporozoite conversion

September 2012

Smita Das-Predoctoral
Mosquito bionomics and human malaria infection rates in Nchelenge, Zambia

1.  Identification and bionomics of malaria infected mosquito vector(s) in Nchelenge

2.  Measuring the crude entomological inoculation rate (EIR) of malaria in Nchelenge

3.  Measuring the human infection rate of malaria using rapid diagnostic testing (RDT) in Nchelenge


Patricia Ferrer-Predoctoral
 Iron and Exoerythrocytic malaria

1.  To compare and determine the effect of hepatocyte iron reduction by additional exogenous hepciding, Nramp2 RNAi and/or FBS0701 iron chelator to during in vitro malaria infection using calcein as a reporter

2.  To characterize the timing, dosing and duration of FBS0701 on oocyst production and intermediate stages in anemic and non-anemic mice


Kyle McLean-Predoctoral
Dissecting the role of PfMaf1 in the early stages of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytogenesis


1.  Validation of PfMaf1 as a phospho-regulated repressor of RNA polymerase III

2.  Determiantion of the role of PfMaf1 in teh hierarchical progression of gametocyte development


Renato deFreitas-Postdoctoral
Pharmacokinetic Optimization of Plasmepsin Inhibitors

1.  To identify the inhibitors with the most favorable cellular efficacy for further pharmacokinetic studies, including microsomal stability, permeability, bioavailability and toxicity

2.  To perform toxicity studies in mice and rats and to perform efficacy studies in humanized mice model that can be infected by P. falciparum  

3.  To use animal results to build a QSAR model in order to find a correlation between the structure, pharmacokinetic and efficacy parameters of the inhibitors

4.  Application of the QSAR models to design new compounds with better efficacy in animals and potentially in humans

5.  To generate the appropriate data to begin a Phase 0 study in humans


Andrea Radtke-Predoctoral
The induction of protective CD8+ T cells against Plasmodium liver stages

1.  To determine the role of skin and lymph node resident DCs in the induction of protective CD8+ T cell responses

2.  To characterize the location and kinetics of CD8+ T cell priming in skin-draining lymph nodes

3.  To investigate the innate immune signaling pathways required for inducing protective CD8+ T cell responses

January 2013

Yang Chen-Postdoctoral
IMD-pathway engineered Anopheles mosquito fighting against Plasmodium

1.  Generate transgenic mosquitoes which could inducibly transcribe dsRNAs targeting Caspar and CAudal mRNAs

2.  Test the anti-Plasmodium effect of the transgenic mosquitoes

3.  Compare the gene expression profile differences between transgenic lines

4. Compare fitness cost between transgenic mosquito lines


Andrew Pike-Predoctoral
The effects of transgenesis on various P. falciparum resistant Anopheles stephensi mosquito lines

1.  To identify the effects of transgenesis on A. stephensi fitness

2.  Global transcriptome characterization of transgenic mosquitoes


Jessie Pinchoff-Predoctoral
Malaria prevention strategies and prospects for elimination: Variation in insecticide-treated net (ITN) effectiveness and use in rural Zambia

1.  Compare individual and household level factors that influence ITN use in Choma and Nchelenge districts

2. Compare the spatial distribution of environmental features influencing ITN use in Choma and Nchelenge districts

3. Determine spatio-temporal trends in ITN use in Macha, Zambia

April 2013

Ryan Smith-Postdoctoral
Characterization of athe mosquito late-phase immune response

1.  Investigate LL3 expression and cellular distribution in mosuito hemocytes

2. Determine the relationship of LL3 with known mediators of late-phase immunity

3.  Identify cellular/humoral immune components regulated by the expression of LL3


Ravi Dhar, PhD
Dr. Dhar is a scientist with the National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, India. He spent five months in the laboratory of Nirbhay Kumar, learning advanced molecular techniques for genotype analysis of Plasmodium falciparum in India. With the knowledge he gained during his fellowship, he will study parasite diversity in severe and non-severe infections in Indian patients, apply this information to the study of responses to antimalarial drugs and build bridges for future collaboration with JHMRI investigators.


Moonga Hawela, Msc
Mr. Hawela is a Biomedical Scientist and Acting Chief Parasitologist with the National Malaria Control Centre in Zambia.  He spent three months in the laboratory of Dr. David Sullivan where he mastered the techniques of extraction of parasite DNA, amplification of MSP2 for P. falciparum, trained to use MSP2 primers and received extensive training in performance of electrophoresis and reading of gels.    


Luciano Moreira, PhD
Dr. Moreira is an Associate Researcher with the Malaria Laboratory of Centro de Pesquisas Rene Rachou/FIOCRUZ, Brazil.  He spent 1 month in the laboratory of Dr. Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena learning Plasmodium falciparum culture and mosquito transmission techniques. 


Ruth Nyakundi, Msc
Ms. Nyakundi is an Assistant Research Scientist with the Department of Tropical and Infectious Diseases, Institute of Primate Research in Nairobi, Kenya.  She spent 3 months in the laboratory of Dr. Nirbhay Kumar, to gain expertise in P. falciparum culture and mosquito transmission methods to introduce her and her institution to new technology and new techniques. 


Panadda Krairojananan, MS
Ms. Krairojanan is a PhD candidate and Assistant Chief with the Molecular Biology Section, Department of Entomology for the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences in Bangkok, Thailand.  She spent 3 months in the laboratory of Dr. Rhoel Dinglasan studying the molecular mechanisms of Plasmodium-mosquito interactions.  The experiences she gained not only benefited her but her Institution in molecular techniques as much of these techniques were not available at the Mahidol University and AFRIMS.


Santosh Anand Sripada, PhD
Dr. Sripada is a PhD student at the University of Hyderabad, Department of Biotechnology, School of Life Sciences in India. Spent 3 months in the laboratory of Dr. Isabelle Coppens studying the liver stages of Plasmodium understanding the hepatocyte-sporozoite interactions and developing novel therapeutic interventions. 


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