Colin Sutherland BSc PhD MPH

Head of Department - Immunology and Infection and Reader in Parasitology

Colin Sutherland's Background

Colin joined the School in January 1998 to work with Professor Geoffrey Targett on the adhesion of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes. This was followed by Wellcome Trust-funded studies, with Prof Targett and Chris Drakeley, on antimalarial combination therapy and transmission of P. falciparum in Farafenni, The Gambia from 2000 to 2002. This lead to Colin developing a keen interest in parasite drug resistance. He is now supported by Public Health England (PHE) as Reader in Parasitology attached to the Malaria Reference Laboratory, LSHTM, and as Clinical Scientist in the Department of Clinical Parasitology at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases.

Colin is also currently Head of the Department of Immunology & Infection.

Colin Sutherland's Affiliation

Colin Sutherland's Teaching

Colin contributes lectures to students studying for the Immunology of infectious Diseases (IID), Control of Infectious Diseases (CID) and Molecular Biology of infectious Diseases (MBID) MSc degrees. He has also supervised a large number of MSc summer research projects in the laboratory.

Colin's lab group has been involved in training researchers from a number of malaria endemic countries in techniques for molecular genotyping of malaria parasites. Recent trainees and students have hailed from Burkina Faso, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, The Philippines, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, The Gambia and elsewhere, and include scientists, clinicians, doctoral students and research assistants. 

Colin also contributes to a number of PhD examinations each year. Recent candidates have included students from Universities and Institutes in Liverpool, Copenhagen, Melbourne, Kilifi and London. 

Recently completed doctoral students in the lab include:

Nahla Gadalla (Sudan)  - efficacy of artemether lumefantrinefor treating malaria in eastern Sudan, and markers of treatment failure.   
Completion: Nov 2011

Khalid Beshir (UK/Eritrea) - measuring efficacy of ACT against Plasmodium falciparum wilth a molecular parasite clearance time assay, and its association with mutations in the parasite transporter genes pfmdr1 and pfcrt.                      
Completion: May 2012

Nazma Habib Khan (Pakistan) - population genetics of Leishmania causing cutaneous leishmaniasis in north-western Pakistan.
Completion: April 2013

Bismarck Dinko (Ghana) - longitudinal studies of anti-gametocyte antibodies in Ghanaian school children.
Completion: June 2013

Current doctoral students in the lab include:

Ifeyinwa Chijioke-Nwauche (Nigeria) - efficacy of artemether-lumefantrine and resistance marker selection in HIV positive and negative adults in southern Nigeria.  
Expected submission: mid 2013

Gisela Henriques (Portugal) - New genetic markers of artemisinin resistance in human malaria parasites.   
Expected completion: 2014

Mary Grace Dacuma (The Philippines) - Using molecular methods to study malaria epidemiology of Mindanao.      
Expected completion: 2014

Ifeyinwa Aniebo (Nigeria) - Genomic approaches to understanding drug resistant phenotypes in Plasmodium falciparum.      
Expected completion: 2016

Colin Sutherland's Research

Colin's research falls into 3 main areas: Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte biology, malaria drug resistance and molecular diagnostics for malaria infections. The following projects are currently active in the lab:

1) The effects of combination therapy on post-treatment transmission and carriage of drug resistance genes in P. falciparum.

Together with Rachel Hallett and Teun Bousema, the team is examining the impact of new comnbination antimalarials, particularly those containing artemisinin compounds, on the development of resistance in malaria parasites. This work was funded by the EU-FP7 MALACTRES consortium from 2008 until June 2013. The lab is also linked into a number of trials and studies throughout Africa in which ACTs are being tested.

We are currently identifying mutations in the  P. falciparum genes, pfubp1 and pfcmu, and testing for associations with treatment outcomes in African children with malaria receiving ACT. 

2) New molecular tools for diagnosis of parasitic infections

Public Health England is supporting the development of new DNA amplification assays both in the Malaria Reference Laboratory at LSHTM, with Dr Debbie Nolder and Paul Lansdell, and at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases (HTD) with Dr Spencer Polley and Prof. Peter Chiodini. New real-time quantitative PCR assays for Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax have been developed and have entered routine diagnostic use. Tests for P. ovale, P. malariae and P. knowlesi have been developed and are being validated. These quantitative assays are also being used to monitor parasite clearance times in patients under treatment in HTD.

In addition, new applications of LAMP technology for malaria diagnosis have been developed with Spencer Polley at the Clinical Parasitology Dept at HTD with funding support from FIND, Geneva. A paper describing our Phase III clinical evaluation of this approach, in the form of a commercial  kit developed by Eiken Chemical Co., Japan, was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases in June 2013.

3) Identification of target surface antigens in P. falciparum gametocytes.

The work carried out by doctoral student Dr Maha Saeed (PhD completed 2010) demonstrated that plasma antibodies from some Gambian children with a recent history of gametocyte carriage recognise the surface of cultured gametocyte-infected erythrocytes. Doctoral student Bismarck Dinko has now completed a longitudinal study of these antibodies in school children in his native Ghana.

4) Population biology of P. ovale curtisi and P. ovale wallikeri 

Mary Oguike is leading work on these two distinct forms of malaria parasite, first described in 2010 as part of Colin's work in the UK Malaria Reference Laboratory, with collaborator Dr Mallika Imwong from Mahidol University, Bangkok. Together with Dr Imwong, Dr Abdoulaye Djimde, University of Bamako, Mali and Dr Alyssa Barry, Walter & Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne, we secured Wellcome Trust funding to support this project until the end of 2013.

5) In vitro drug responses of parasites isolated from malaria patients treated at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases (HTD), London.

As Clinical Scientist at HTD, Colin has direct contact with malaria patients who have returned to or visited the UK from malaria-endemic countries. In a project during 2012, funded by the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV),  in vitro  drug sensitivty tests on these parasites with a panel of established and investigational compounds provided by MMV. Project staff Dr Don van Schalkwyk and Rebekah Burrow successfully adapted 7 recent P. falciparum isolates from across Africa to long-term in vitro growth.

6) Full-genome sequencing of malaria parasites taken directly from HTD patients

A number of HTD patients have kindly given written consent for further research studies to be performed on malaria parasite DNA purified from their blood samples.  A full analysis of these parasite genomes with LSHTM colleague Dr Taane Clark was published in 2011, and we are currently working on further genomic studies. 

7) EDCTP-funded studies of ACT therapy for children with malaria in West Africa

This project, coordinated by Dr Djimde in Bamako, brings a number of European and African project partners together to design. implement and evaluate Phase III trials of ACT therapies in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea-Conakry. Particularly exciting is the opportunity to be involved in the first large-scale trials of artesunate-pyronaridine for treating malaria in African children. Khalid Beshir developed a novel qPCR method for evaluating parasite clearance in malaria patients to be deployed across this project.

Research areas

  • Chemotherapy
  • Clinical guidelines
  • Clinical trials
  • Diagnostics
  • Drug discovery and development
  • Drug resistance
  • Parasites
  • Protozoa
  • Public health
  • Randomised controlled trials
  • Vaccines


  • Epidemiology
  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Immunoepidemiology
  • Molecular biology
  • Molecular epidemiology
  • Parasitology

Disease and Health Conditions

  • Emerging Infectious Disease
  • Infectious disease
  • Leishmaniasis
  • Malaria
  • Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
  • Schistosomiasis
  • Tropical diseases
  • Zoonotic disease


  • East Asia & Pacific (all income levels)
  • Euro area
  • European Union
  • Middle East & North Africa (all income levels)
  • South Asia
  • Sub-Saharan Africa (all income levels)


  • Afghanistan
  • Angola
  • Bangladesh
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cambodia
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Gambia, The
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Guinea
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Lao PDR
  • Mali
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Philippines
  • Senegal
  • Sudan
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Uganda
  • United Kingdom
  • Venezuela, RB
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