Dr Colin Sutherland BSc PhD MPH

Head of IID and Reader in Parasitology

About Colin Sutherland

Head of the Immunology & Infection Department in ITD. Head of Antimalarial Drug Development and Drug Resistance in the Malaria Centre.


Colin joined the School in January 1998 and worked with Professor Geoffrey Targett on the adhesion of Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes, and then on antimalarial combination therapy and transmission of P. falciparum in 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 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 Mali, 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:

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

Bismarck Dinko (Ghana) - "Longitudinal studies of anti-gametocyte antibodies in Ghanaian school children."
Completed: June 2013

Ifeyinwa Chijioke-Nwauche (Nigeria) - "Efficacy of artemether-lumefantrine and resistance marker selection in HIV positive and negative adults in southern Nigeria."  
Completed: January 2014

Theses successfully defended in 2014:

Gisela Henriques (Portugal) - "New genetic markers of artemisinin resistance in human malaria parasites."   
Viva passed (pending corrections): Oct 2014

Mary Grace Dacuma (The Philippines) - "Epidemiology of malaria in the provinces of Sarangani, South Cotabato and Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao, The Philippines "      
Viva passed (pending corrections): Oct 2014

Current doctoral candidates:

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

Inke Nadia Lubis (Indonesia) - "Clinical efficacy of artemisinin-based combination therapy for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria in North Sumatera, Indonesia, and the association of molecular markers with treatment outcomes"

Expected completion: 2017


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 Teun Bousema, the team evaluated new combination antimalarials containing artemisinin compounds, and the genetic determinants of susceptibility to these regimens 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 have recently identified mutations in the  P. falciparum genes, pfubp1 and pfap2mu that are associated with treatment outcomes in Kenyan children with malaria receiving ACT. Our data suggest determinants of susceptibility in Africa difer from those recently described in Cambodia.

With new funding from the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, we are now generating transgenic P. falciparum to examine the role of polymorphisms in the pfap2mu locus in modulating parasite response to antimalarial drugs in vitro.

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) 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. Together with Dr Abdoulaye Djimde, University of Bamako, Mali we are pursuing a new project on the liver-stage biology of these two species with new Medical Research Council funding. Dr Don van Schalkwyk is pursuing the mosquito transmission aspects of this project.

4) 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. Dr Don van Schalkwyk and Rebekah Burrow successfully adapted 7 P. falciparum isolates from across Africa to long-term in vitro growth in 2012, and we are now using these for further dissection of parasite susceptibility to a variety of antimalarial drugs in vitro.

5) 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. 

6) 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.

7) Malaria elimination in South Cotabato, The Philippines

New funding from the Malaria Elimination Scientific Alliance (MESA) was obtained in 2014 to deploy the sensitive LAMP malaria diagnostic kit in a proof-of-principle "test and treat study" in three low transmission villages in The Philippines. This work is led by Mary Grace Dacuma, and follows directly on from the results of her PhD studies in Mindanao, her home province.

Research areas


Disease and Health Conditions