The Univeristy of Melbourne The Royal Melbourne Hopspital

A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital

EDUCATION

Research Projects

Project: Discovery of malaria vaccine peptide targets

Heath Group

Using Plasmodium-specific transgenic T cells in a mouse model we demonstrated that tissue-resident memory T (TRM) cells can fight malaria parasites in the liver with great efficacy. We then developed novel malaria vaccines aimed at the generation of these cells and achieved high levels of protection against infection. However, the lack of known parasite-derived protective epitopes that can be included as antigens in these vaccines is an important limitation for their future development and hinders translation into humans. We have recently defined multiple candidate parasite epitopes with high potential as vaccine antigens. This project will develop an innovative method to test the immunogenicity of these epitopes and to assess the protective capacity of specific liver-TRM cells against parasite infection in the mouse model. Promising epitopes will be included in our TRM-based malaria vaccines and the immunogenicity of ortholog antigens in human parasites will be tested. This project will involve several advanced immunological techniques with a strong focus on flow cytometry.

Contact project supervisor for further
information and application enquiries

Project Supervisor

Dr Daniel Fernandez-Ruiz

Project availability
PhD/MPhil
Master of Biomedical Science
Honours

Heath Group

lynette.beattie@unimelb.edu.au

3 vacancies

Themes
Host Pathogens Interactions
Immunology
Cross Cutting Disciplines
Discovery Research

The Heath group is interested in the immune response to pathogens, particularly to malaria, which is still a major cause of mortality worldwide. We study T cell responses with the aim of improving vaccine strategies and focus on T cell responses in the skin, the liver and lymphoid organs including the spleen. Our lab recently discovered a population of resident memory T cells within the liver that are capable of protecting against malaria infection. These and other cells are currently being studied. 


Heath Group Current Projects