We aim to study malaria host-parasite interactions with a particular focus on gaining a better understanding of:

  • differential patterns of natural acquisition of immune responses and their association with parasite exposure and protection from infection
  • parasite dynamics within the human host and the genetic diversity and evolutionary history of parasites
  • transmission epidemiology and biology of Plasmodium gametocytes and sporozoites
  • host immune responses to Plasmodium infection and how they relate to exposure history and protection against clinical disease
  • the role of hypnozoite in the increase resilience of P. vivax to control and elimination
  • host genetic adaptation to malaria.

These questions are being addressed with a range of population-based studies in malaria-affected regions of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Thailand, Cambodia and Brazil that combine well-designed epidemiological and clinical studies with in-depth molecular, immunological and systems biology studies of host-parasite interactions.

More recently we have extended into studying COVID-19 infection. Leveraging our experience from malaria serology, we have developed novel approached to COVID-19 sero-surveillance and are studying the acquisition and maintenance of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 infections.

In parallel, we are supporting health authorities in the Pacific with planning for and managing the COVID-19 pandemic by modelling different SARS-CoV-2 transmission scenarios and development of analytical tools to monitor the local progression of the pandemic.


Selected publications from Prof Ivo Mueller

Longley RJ, Grigg MJ, Schoffer K, Obadia T, Hyslop S, Piera KA, Nekkab N, Mazhari R, Takashima E, Tsuboi T, Harbers M, Tetteh K, Drakeley C, Chitnis CE, Healer J, Tham WH, Sattabongkot J, White MT, Cooper DJ, Rajahram GS, Barber BE, William T, Anstey NM, Mueller I. Plasmodium vivax malaria serological exposure markers: Assessing the degree and implications of cross-reactivity with P. knowlesi. Cell Rep Med. 2022 Jun 21;3(6):100662. doi: 10.1016/j.xcrm.2022.100662. PMID: 35732155; PMCID: PMC9245056.

Obadia T, Nekkab N, Robinson LJ, Drakeley C, Mueller I, White MT. Developing sero-diagnostic tests to facilitate Plasmodium vivax Serological Test-and-Treat approaches: modeling the balance between public health impact and overtreatment. BMC Med. 2022 Mar 18;20(1):98. doi: 10.1186/s12916-022-02285-5. PMID: 35300700; PMCID: PMC8932240.

Nekkab N, Lana R, Lacerda M, Obadia T, Siqueira A, Monteiro W, Villela D, Mueller I, White M. Estimated impact of tafenoquine for Plasmodium vivax control and elimination in Brazil: A modelling study. PLoS Med. 2021 Apr 23;18(4):e1003535. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003535. PMID: 33891582; PMCID: PMC8064585.

Longley RJ, White MT, Takashima E, Brewster J, Morita M, Harbers M, Obadia T, Robinson LJ, Matsuura F, Liu ZSJ, Li-Wai-Suen CSN, Tham WH, Healer J, Huon C, Chitnis CE, Nguitragool W, Monteiro W, Proietti C, Doolan DL, Siqueira AM, Ding XC, Gonzalez IJ, Kazura J, Lacerda M, Sattabongkot J, Tsuboi T, Mueller I. Development and validation of serological markers for detecting recent Plasmodium vivax infection. Nat Med. 2020 May;26(5):741-749. doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-0841-4. Epub 2020 May 11. PMID: 32405064.

White MT, Walker P, Karl S, Hetzel MW, Freeman T, Waltmann A, Laman M, Robinson LJ, Ghani A, Mueller I. Mathematical modelling of the impact of expanding levels of malaria control interventions on Plasmodium vivax. Nat Commun. 2018 Aug 17;9(1):3300. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05860-8. PMID: 30120250; PMCID: PMC6097992.

França CT, White MT, He WQ, Hostetler JB, Brewster J, Frato G, Malhotra I, Gruszczyk J, Huon C, Lin E, Kiniboro B, Yadava A, Siba P, Galinski MR, Healer J, Chitnis C, Cowman AF, Takashima E, Tsuboi T, Tham WH, Fairhurst RM, Rayner JC, King CL, Mueller I. Identification of highly-protective combinations of Plasmodium vivax recombinant proteins for vaccine development. Elife. 2017 Sep 26;6:e28673. doi: 10.7554/eLife.28673. PMID: 28949293; PMCID: PMC5655538.

Robinson LJ, Wampfler R, Betuela I, Karl S, White MT, Li Wai Suen CS, Hofmann NE, Kinboro B, Waltmann A, Brewster J, Lorry L, Tarongka N, Samol L, Silkey M, Bassat Q, Siba PM, Schofield L, Felger I, Mueller I. Strategies for understanding and reducing the Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale hypnozoite reservoir in Papua New Guinean children: a randomised placebo-controlled trial and mathematical model. PLoS Med. 2015 Oct 27;12(10):e1001891. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001891. PMID: 26505753; PMCID: PMC4624431.

Koepfli C, Robinson LJ, Rarau P, Salib M, Sambale N, Wampfler R, Betuela I, Nuitragool W, Barry AE, Siba P, Felger I, Mueller I. Blood-Stage Parasitaemia and Age Determine Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax Gametocytaemia in Papua New Guinea. PLoS One. 2015 May 21;10(5):e0126747. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0126747. PMID: 25996916; PMCID: PMC4440770.

Waltmann A, Darcy AW, Harris I, Koepfli C, Lodo J, Vahi V, Piziki D, Shanks GD, Barry AE, Whittaker M, Kazura JW, Mueller I. High Rates of Asymptomatic, Sub-microscopic Plasmodium vivax Infection and Disappearing Plasmodium falciparum Malaria in an Area of Low Transmission in Solomon Islands. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2015 May 21;9(5):e0003758. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0003758. PMID: 25996619; PMCID: PMC4440702.

Unger HW, Ome-Kaius M, Wangnapi RA, Umbers AJ, Hanieh S, Suen CS, Robinson LJ, Rosanas-Urgell A, Wapling J, Lufele E, Kongs C, Samol P, Sui D, Singirok D, Bardaji A, Schofield L, Menendez C, Betuela I, Siba P, Mueller I, Rogerson SJ. Sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine plus azithromycin for the prevention of low birthweight in Papua New Guinea: a randomised controlled trial. BMC Med. 2015 Jan 16;13:9. doi: 10.1186/s12916-014-0258-3. PMID: 25591391; PMCID: PMC4305224.

Stanisic DI, Fowkes FJ, Koinari M, Javati S, Lin E, Kiniboro B, Richards JS, Robinson LJ, Schofield L, Kazura JW, King CL, Zimmerman P, Felger I, Siba PM, Mueller I, Beeson JG. Acquisition of antibodies against Plasmodium falciparum merozoites and malaria immunity in young children and the influence of age, force of infection, and magnitude of response. Infect Immun. 2015 Feb;83(2):646-60. doi: 10.1128/IAI.02398-14. Epub 2014 Nov 24. PMID: 25422270; PMCID: PMC4294228.

Mueller I, Schoepflin S, Smith TA, Benton KL, Bretscher MT, Lin E, Kiniboro B, Zimmerman PA, Speed TP, Siba P, Felger I. Force of infection is key to understanding the epidemiology of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in Papua New Guinean children. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jun 19;109(25):10030-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1200841109. Epub 2012 Jun 4. PMID: 22665809; PMCID: PMC3382533.

Senn N, Rarau P, Stanisic DI, Robinson L, Barnadas C, Manong D, Salib M, Iga J, Tarongka N, Ley S, Rosanas-Urgell A, Aponte JJ, Zimmerman PA, Beeson JG, Schofield L, Siba P, Rogerson SJ, Reeder JC, Mueller I. Intermittent preventive treatment for malaria in Papua New Guinean infants exposed to Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax: a randomized controlled trial. PLoS Med. 2012;9(3):e1001195. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001195. Epub 2012 Mar 27. Erratum in: PLoS Med. 2012 Jun;9(6). doi:10.1371/annotation/de06fdd3-c263-416c-8b5f-291f9c474558. PMID: 22479155; PMCID: PMC3313928.

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