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Johnathan Lawton

Contact Information:

Training Program:

Graduate Program in Life Sciences – PhD in Epidemiology and Human Genetics, Molecular Epidemiology Track


Mark Travassos, MD, MSc

Summary of the Research Project: 

I study the epidemiology and pathogenesis of severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria, focusing on cases of cerebral malaria and severe malarial anemia. I am interested in RIFINs and STEVORs, two diverse families of parasite proteins that are displayed on the surface of infected red blood cells. Lab studies suggest that these proteins may be important to disease progression, but remarkably little is known about their association with severity in natural infections. I am interested in integrating bioinformatics and clinical studies to comprehensively study expression of and immunity to RIFIN and STEVOR variants in Malian children. I am also interested in understanding how RIFINs and STEVORs contribute to blood type related susceptibility to severe malaria. My goal is to contribute to the development of novel vaccines or adjunctive therapies against severe malaria.


BS, Biology and Public health, College of William & Mary

Achievements and Honors:

  • 2016 - Rotary International “Interact” Scholarship Award for Service to Community
  • 2018 - Roy R. Charles Center Study Away Award (Narok, Kenya)
  • 2020 - Graduated summa cum laude, College of William & Mary
  • 2022 - Poster Session Winner, Graduate Research Conference, University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • 2022 - Patricia Langenberg Endowment in Women’s Health and Epidemiology Award
  • 2022 - ICTR/CTSA TL1 Clinical and Translational Research Training Award

About me:

Thanks for checking out my profile! I grew up in Richmond, Virginia, then went to undergraduate at William and Mary. While in college, I spent a summer teaching public health to kids in rural Kenya, which ignited my interest in global health and pediatric infectious diseases and ultimately led me to the University of Maryland School of Medicine. On campus, you can usually find me in a sunny spot of the library or anywhere that sells coffee. Outside of school, I enjoy taking strolls through Patterson Park, trying out fun recipes, playing with my cat Melon, and exploring the beautiful and dynamic DMV area. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the graduate program or my research!