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Our multidisciplinary malaria program includes the study of the molecular and immunological mechanisms involved in the induced protective T cell responses against Plasmodium-infected hepatocytes (Drs. Azad, Sacci), vaccine development and testing (Drs. Levine and Sztein), and molecular epidemiology (Drs. Plowe, Laufer). Because very few exoerythrocytic-stage antigens have been discovered or characterized, ongoing projects have been aimed at identifying new antigens, through molecular approaches, and defining what role these antigens have in the induction of protective immune responses. Detailed studies are also underway to assess the role of specific antigens in protective immunity induced by irradiated sporozoites in the Plasmodium yoelii mouse model. Dr. Plowe was recently selected as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in Patient-Oriented Research.  His areas of interest include malaria drug resistance, molecular epidemiology, molecular evolution, pathogenesis, HIV-malaria interactions and clinical trials of malaria drugs and vaccines. In addition, Dr. Laufer studies malaria during pregnancy and its impact on infants, and the interaction between HIV and malaria.

The CVD group (Drs. Levine, Sztein and Lyke) has been studying sporozoite and blood-stage antigens as potential components of a malaria subunit vaccine using a Salmonella-delivery system. The investigators in the malaria program have an extensive history of collaboration with scientists at the Laboratory of Parasitology at the NIH, Malaria Programs of The Naval Medical Research Institute (NMRI), and The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR). These interactions have provided a rich environment for training graduate students in the various aspects of malaria research. In addition, Dr. Lyke studies the human immune response to parasites and participates in field, clinical and immunologic studies of Plasmodium falciparum and Schistosoma haematobium infections.

Dr. Joana Carneiro da Silva is an Assistant Professor in the Institute for Genome Sciences with a primary appointment in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Her research utilizes bioinformatics to study single-celled eukaryotic parasites, with particular emphasis on organisms in the genus Plasmodium and in the genus Theileria, the causative agents of malaria and East Coast fever, respectively.

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Research Spotlight:

UM SOM Researchers Unravel Mechanism That Plays Key Role in Sexual Differentiation of Brain

McCarthyDuring prenatal development, the brains of most animals, including humans, develop specifically male or female characteristics. In most species, some portions of male and female brains are a different size, and often have a different number of neurons and synapses. However, scientists have known little about the details of how this differentiation occurs. Now, a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) has illuminated some details about how this occurs.‌

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