Research themes

Parasite Biology & Drug Discovery

This research theme involves a number of disciplines ranging from population genetics and genomics, to cell biology and immunology, through to design of small molecule inhibitors.

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Plasmodium parasite under microscope

Human Pathology & Disease Response

Researchers within this theme focus on new vaccine strategies, parasite evolution surveillance, tools to detect low parasitaemia and estimate malaria transmission levels, fast and reliable assessment of drug safety for patients, and effective adjunct therapies for severe cases.

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Transient oxygen deprivation is seen in the basal ganglia part of the brain in adults with non-fatal cerebral malaria (darker areas highlighted, left). The authors showed for the first time that fatal cerebral malaria in adults is associated with a profound lack of oxygen seen in the whole brain (dark areas throughout the organ, right).

Vector Biology

As Plasmodium parasites are transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes, vector biology plays a major role in the battle against malaria, promoting a better understanding of malaria life cycle, which in turn facilitates the discovery and use of more effectively targeted control strategies. 

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An Anopheles mosquito ingests blood from a malaria-infected study participant. Credit: Fabien Beilhe, Radboudumc

Epidemiology & Transmission

This theme includes researchers who study malaria transmission patterns and evaluate techniques to measure prevalence or incidence of human infection, and study how they interact, in order to identify risk factors, measure the effectiveness of interventions, and track the progress of malaria control.

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Figure 1. Aerial imagery collected by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV or drone) of households and larval habitats for the INDIE malaria project in Sapone, Burkina Faso (credit: Nombre Apollinaire and Kimberly Fornace)

Vector Control

Increasing insecticide resistance imperils malaria control progress and scientists within this theme are actively engaged in research to counter this threat, conducting trials to evaluate new resistance-breaking products and exploring alternative methods of vector control.

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Aspirator in use as part of of the trial. Credit: World Mosquito Programme


New policies of antimalarial drug administration have proven highly successful in reducing the incidence of malaria in infants and young children under 5 years. The approach, collectively termed chemoprevention, is the focus of this research theme, as it represents a mainstay of malaria control.

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Two young boys wait to be given their does of anti-malarials, Basse, The Gambia.

Clinical Research, Drug Efficacy & Resistance

Malaria Centre researchers within this theme are making a concerted contribution to improving two key aspects of malaria case management: diagnosis and chemotherapy. The former is challenging in low transmission areas, and the latter depends on good quality malaria drugs, which are not always available. Finally, treatment will not be fully effective if the patient harbours resistant malaria parasites, so monitoring treatment failure in the field is key.

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Scientists working at the LSHTM malaria lab

Malaria Elimination

Malaria elimination is an explicit goal for a significant number of malaria-endemic countries, including some where nation-wide elimination may seem unrealistic. Experts within this theme investigate how sub-national elimination may be possible due to the natural heterogeneity of malaria transmission.

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image of woman getting tested in malaria in southeast asia


Effective malaria surveillance, and the monitoring and evaluation of control and elimination efforts, are essential to track progress in malaria control and to know here best to target resources to maximise their impact. Emphasis is placed on surveillance in terms of a core intervention, but also as a way to help prevent re-establishment of transmission. Work within this theme covers both these aspects, along with other important functions of surveillance. 

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Kimberly Fornace a LSHTM research fellow under the MONKEYBAR project takes a photograph of the rainforest canopy for ground-truthing satellite and drone data at a rainforest in Malaysia

Social, Economic & Policy Research

Economic and social research helps inform evidence-based decision making and allows research methods to be adapted, based on epidemiological settings. This approach is utilised by researchers in this theme to reduce both the burden and rise in antimalarial and insecticide resistance around the world. 

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Measuring Trachoma in Burkina Faso. Credit: Alaine Kathryn Knipes; Parasitic Disease Branch (DPDx); Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria