The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital


Research Projects

Project: Malaria and our immune system

Rogerson Group

The parasite which causes malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, is a big problem, it causes millions of people to be sick each year and many of them die (mostly young children). To develop a better vaccine and treatments we need to understand how the parasite is interacting with our immune system. We have preliminary data suggesting that the malaria-parasite infected-red blood cell might have higher levels of sialic acid on its surface. This is important because sialic acid is a marker of ‘self’ and interacts with several immune receptors on leukocytes to down regulate their responses and it is also a receptor for lectins which initiate the complement cascade. This project will involve measuring sialic acid levels on the surface of parasite infected cells, investigating how these levels might change with infection and how they could affect how our immune system interacts with the parasite. Techniques involved in this project will likely include parasite cell culture, cell staining, flow cytometry, leukocyte isolation and stimulation as well as basic statistical analysis.

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Dr Elizabeth Aitken

Project Co-supervisor

Professor Stephen Rogerson

Project availability

Rogerson Group

3 vacancies

Bacterial and Parasitic Infections
Cross Cutting Disciplines
Discovery Research
Global Health
Clinical and health systems research

The Rogerson laboratory studies immunity to severe malaria in pregnant women and young children. We are identifying the targets and features of antibody responses that can protect against severe malaria in young children or against placental malaria. We have established assays to perform Systems Serology analyses of antibody immunity, including identification of the targets of antibody and the types of antibody response important for protection. These include antibody isotype and subclass, and engagement of Fc receptors and complement both in plate-based assays and using white blood cells, including neutrophils monocytes and NK cells. We are establishing assays of antibody glycosylation.

Rogerson Group Current Projects