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Immunoepidem. & Pathogenesis Unit

The Immunoepidemiology and Pathogenesis Unit within the Malaria Research Program studies the humoral immune response to malaria infection and vaccination as well as the pathogenesis of clinical malaria syndromes. Ongoing projects include:

  1. The identification of epitopes (antibody binding sites) on diverse malaria antigens that are associated with protection from clinical manifestations of malaria in order to inform the design of next generation malaria vaccines
  2. The design of surveillance tools in malaria elimination settings, particularly defining signatures of antibody responses that correlate with prior malaria exposure
  3. The role of variant surface antigens in the pathogenesis of cerebral malaria
  4. The use of a new mouse model to better understand the contribution of vascular dysfunction to cerebral malaria pathogenesis

The Immunoepidemiology and Pathogenesis Unit has several ongoing collaborations:

  • Institute for Genome Sciences: Sequencing Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax field isolates to identify antigen variants for inclusion on protein and peptide microarrays.
  • Division of Cardiovascular Medicine: Identifying vascular dysfunction processes  that may contribute to cerebral malaria pathogenesis.
  • Felgner Lab, University of California, Irvine: The use of customized diversity-reflecting protein microarrays to understand the development of natural immunity to malaria
  • Roche NimbleGen, Inc.: The development of ultra-dense peptide microarrays that can detect biologically meaningful seroreactivity to peptides representing diverse malaria and mosquito antigens

The unit is led by pediatric infectious disease physicians Dr. Andrea A. Berry and Dr. Mark A. Travassos. Dr. Berry also helps to lead clinical trials of whole organism sporozoite vaccine and human malaria challenge studies. Dr. Travassos focuses on severe malaria pathogenesis and epidemiology as part of the Bandiagara Malaria Project in Mali.