Malaria is an infectious disease caused by Plasmodium parasites. This project aims utilise serological tools as robust measures of malaria transmission over time.
Recent advances have been made in the discovery and validation of serological markers of recent exposure to P. vivax and P. falciparum parasites. Whilst these species are responsible for most malaria infections globally, P. knowlesi is an emerging cause of malaria in Southeast Asia.
In this project, you will identify and validate P. knowlesi markers of recent exposure, assess potential cross-reactivity with other Plasmodium species, and harmonise these new markers with existing assays for P. vivax and P. falciparum. You will develop a P. knowlesi serology-based classification algorithm and apply this to multiple epidemiological cohorts in Southeast Asia. Opportunities may exist to validate similar multiplex serology approaches for other priority co-endemic regional zoonotic pathogens such as leptospirosis and rickettsioses. You will learn skills in serology, immunology, statistical analysis and machine learning, with possibilities to extend this to protein expression/production and geospatial modelling.
Dr Rhea Longley is a Senior Research Officer in the Mueller Laboratory group. This project will be co-supervised with A/Prof Matt Grigg (Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin) and will involve collaboration with scientists in Indonesia and Malaysia, including travel to field-sites and collaborating laboratories in these countries.