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Understanding immunological memory to malaria infections - NU/LSHTM project

Title of PhD project / theme

Understanding immunological memory to malaria infections

Supervisory team

Julius Clemence Hafalla, Associate Professor (Lead)
Department of Immunology and Infection LSHTM
E-mail: Julius.Hafalla@lshtm.ac.uk

Katsuyuki Yui, Professor, Professor, Department of Immunology
Graduate School of Tropical Medicine and Global Health (TMGH) NU
E-mail: katsu@nagasaki-u.ac.jp

Shin-Ichi Inoue, Associate Professor
Department of Immunology
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, NU
E-mail: shinichi@nagasaki-u.ac.jp

Brief description of project / theme

A legitimate concern of current malaria elimination campaigns is that naturally acquired immunity may wane with falling Plasmodium falciparum transmission. A resurgence in malaria transmission is a threat to current successes with control programmes, and would render those previously ‘immune’ individuals vulnerable to clinical episodes. Understanding the molecular basis of the persistence of effective/ineffective immune responses during natural infection, particularly in the era of changing malaria epidemiology, is crucial for the rational development and evaluation of new antimalarial interventions, including vaccines. The proposed project will examine the mechanisms of underlying the generation and maintenance of host immune responses to malaria infection at the transcriptomic level in both rodent models and humans. Studies based in Nagasaki will focus on dissecting immune regulatory pathways that impact the maintenance of immune responses in rodent models. Studies based in Nagasaki and London will contrast host immune pathways in individuals living in varying transmission levels in Asia and Africa. Results will be correlated with data on antibody/B and T cell responses  in these individuals. 

References:

  1. Nat Immunol. 2020 Oct 12. doi: 10.1038/s41590-020-0800-8. 
  2. Parasite Immunol. 2020 Jun 4:e12763. doi: 10.1111/pim.12763. 
  3. Malar J. 2020 Oct 9;19(1):364. doi: 10.1186/s12936-020-03435-x.
  4. Nat Microbiol. 2019 Sep;4(9):1592-1602.
  5. Sci Transl Med. 2018 Jun 27;10(447):eaar3619. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aar3619.
  6. Parasitol Int. 2018 Jun;67(3):284-293.

The role of LSHTM and NU in this collaborative project

A collaborative project is currently running between Dr Hafalla and Prof Yui/ Dr Inoue on immunological memory of malaria in 3 sites representing stable transmission, limited malaria exposure, and historical exposure in the Philippines.  The PhD student will be involved in this collaborative project, as well as others. The student will have training of immunological approaches to malaria infection using relevant mouse models in Nagasaki to learn basic immunological techniques. The student will acquire skills in the analysis of transcriptomic data. 

Particular prior educational requirements for a student undertaking this project

A 2:1 BSc degree or equivalent in the Biological Sciences, with basic knowledge of Immunology and molecular biology is required. Bioinformatic experience or knowledge is recommended.

An MSc degree in Immunology, Molecular Biology, or related field is ideal.

Skills we expect a student to develop/acquire whilst pursuing this project

The students will have the opportunity to study host pathogen interactions during malaria infections utilising molecular and immunological approaches in both laboratory and field settings. The student will acquire knowledge of data analysis, including bioinformatics.