Melbourne scientists dominate international Howard Hughes Medical Institute awards

ne's newly-announced HHMI International Research Scholars:

Professor Alan Cowman; WEHI: to investigate how Plasmodium falciparum, which causes the most lethal form of human malaria, invades mature red blood cells. This information will be important in determining the potential of proteins involved in the process as vaccine and drug candidates.

Dr Brendan Crabb; WEHI: to study merozoite surface proteins, the prime targets of immune responses and the leading vaccine candidates for control of the deadly malarial parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. Specifically, his group will use genetic technologies to study the relative importance of specific merozoite antigens.

Professor Simon Foote; WEHI and the Menzies Research Institute, Hobart: to determine how the host defends itself against malaria resistance by infecting genetically similar mice carrying rare mutations and studying the mutations that allow animals to survive infection. This research will yield insights into host response to malaria.

Dr Louis Schofield; WEHI: to study the role of innate immunity and the parasite toxin in susceptibility and resistance to severe malaria. It is hoped that determining the role of the toxin and innate responses in disease, and the role of anti-toxin antibodies and counter-regulatory mechanisms in clinical immunity to malaria, will provide a rational basis for the development of interventions that prevent malaria fatalities.

Dr William Heath; WEHI: to investigate the effects of the interaction between malarial parasites and dendritic (antigen-presenting) cells, which initiate immunity, on the ability of malaria to overcome the efforts of a competent immune system. He will study which specific types of dendritic cells capture malaria and how these immune cells are affected by a fully-fledged infection by Plasmodium falciparum.

Dr Gabrielle Belz; WEHI: to investigate the mechanisms by which antige

Contact: Brad Allen
Research Australia

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