Imperial College London

Dr Dina Vlachou

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences

Advanced Research Fellow



+44 (0)20 7594 1267d.vlachou Website




612Sir Alexander Fleming BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





I am a molecular biologist with specialized expertise in disease vector and parasite genetics, bolstered by a robust background in functional genomics. Prior to my tenure at Imperial, I undertook postdoctoral training in the field of vector and parasite research at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (IMBB-FORTH) in Crete, Greece, and Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) in Leiden, The Netherlands. I then joined the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, as a Marie Curie Independent Career Development Fellow.

My research centres on unravelling the complexities of malaria transmission biology. Malaria, caused by the Plasmodium protozoan parasite, is transmitted from human to human via Anopheles mosquitoes. Within the mosquito vector, malaria parasites face major challenges, particularly as they traverse the mosquito midgut facing robust mosquito immune responses. Our investigations have revealed intricate host-parasite interactions and identified key roles of specific parasite proteins in conferring resistance against these immune responses.

My current research focusses on:

1. Mechanisms of parasite development: Unravelling the intricate mechanisms that underpin parasite development within the mosquito and functionally characterizing the key regulators of these developmental processes.

2. Molecular interplay between the mosquito host and the parasite: Characterizing malaria parasite molecules that mediate interactions with the vector, with a particular focus on those contributing to resistance against its immune responses.

3. Mosquito immune responses against the malaria parasite: Dissecting the mosquito immune responses that specifically target the malaria parasite, as they contribute to limiting the parasite population size, presenting potential targets for interventions.

4. Malaria transmission blocking interventions: Identifying novel targets within both the parasite and mosquito in order to advance strategies for blocking malaria transmission. My current focus is on generating mosquitoes capable of expressing anti-Plasmodial effectors. These engineered effectors will then be disseminated in mosquito populations using gene drive mechanisms.


We currently have one available Post-doc position in Molecular Parasitology and one Technician position in Malaria Transmission Biology. If you're interested in joining us, please email me at for more information.


Bailey, A.J., Ukegbu, C.V., Giorgalli, M., Besson, T.R.B., Christophides, G.K., Vlachou, D. (2023) Intracellular Plasmodium aquaporin 2 is required for sporozoite production in the mosquito vector and malaria transmission. PNAS 120 (44), e2304339120. 10.1073/pnas.2304339120

Press Release: Malaria parasite gene could be effective drug target to block transmission

Ukegbu, C.V., Gomes, A.R., Giorgalli, M., Campos, M., Bailey, A.J., Besson, T.R.B., Billker, O., Vlachou, D.*, and Christophides, G.K.* (2023). Identification of genes required for Plasmodium gametocyte-to-sporozoite development in the mosquito vector. Cell Host Microbe 31, 1539-1551 e1536. 10.1016/j.chom.2023.08.010.

*Equal senior and corresponding authors

Press Release: Tracking malaria parasite growth in mosquitoes may lead to new preventatives.

Ukegbu CV, Christophides GK and Vlachou D (2021) Identification of Three Novel PlasmodiumFactors Involved in Ookinete to Oocyst Developmental Transition. Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol., 15 March 2021

Zannatul Ferdous, Silke Fuchs, Volker Behrends, Nikolaos Trasanidis, Robert M. Waterhouse, Dina Vlachou, George K. Christophides (2021). Anopheles coluzzii stearoyl-CoA desaturase is essential for adult female survival and reproduction upon blood feedingPLOS Pathogens, May 2021

Ukegbu CV, Giorgalli M, Tapanelli S, Rona LDP, Jaye A, Wyer C, Angrisano F, Blagborough AM, Christophides GK and Vlachou D (2020) Plasmodium PIMMS43 is required for ookinete evasion of the mosquito complement-like response and sporogonic development in the oocyst.  PNAS, March 31, 2020 117 (13) 7363-7373.


Epigenetic regulation underlying Plasmodium berghei gene expression during its developmental transition from host to vector (2020) Witmer K,  Fraschka SAK,  Vlachou D,  Bártfai R,  Christophides GK. Sci Rep 10, 6354 (2020).

Ukegbu CV, Akinosoglou KA, Christophides GK, Vlachou D (2017) Plasmodium berghei PIMMS2 Promotes Ookinete Invasion of the Anopheles gambiae Mosquito MidgutINFECTION AND IMMUNITY, Vol: 85, ISSN: 0019-9567

Ukegbu CV, Giorgalli M, Yassine H, Ramirez JL, Taxiarchi C, Barillas-Mury C, Christophides GK, Vlachou D (2017) Plasmodium berghei P47 is essential for ookinete protection from the Anopheles gambiae complement-like response, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, Vol: 7, ISSN: 2045-2322

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Ukegbu CV, Cho J-S, Christophides GK, et al., 2015, Transcriptional silencing and activation of paternal DNA during Plasmodium berghei zygotic development and transformation to oocyst, Cellular Microbiology, Vol:17, ISSN:1462-5822, Pages:1230-1240

Akinosoglou KA, Bushell ESC, Ukegbu CV, et al., 2015, Characterization of <i>Plasmodium</i> developmental transcriptomes in <i>Anopheles gambiae</i> midgut reveals novel regulators of malaria transmission, Cellular Microbiology, Vol:17, ISSN:1462-5814, Pages:254-268

Schlegelmilch T, Vlachou D, 2013, Cell biological analysis of mosquito midgut invasion: the defensive role of the actin-based ookinete hood, Pathogens and Global Health, Vol:107, ISSN:2047-7724, Pages:480-492

Mendes AM, Awono-Ambene PH, Nsango SE, et al., 2011, Infection Intensity-Dependent Responses of <i>Anopheles gambiae</i> to the African Malaria Parasite <i>Plasmodium falciparum</i>, Infection and Immunity, Vol:79, ISSN:0019-9567, Pages:4708-4715

Mendes AM, Schlegelmilch T, Cohuet A, et al., 2008, Conserved mosquito/parasite interactions affect development of Plasmodium falciparum in Africa, PLOS Pathogens, Vol:4, ISSN:1553-7366, Pages:1-12

Waterhouse RM, Kriventseva EV, Meister S, et al., 2007, Evolutionary dynamics of immune-related genes and pathways in disease-vector mosquitoes, Science, Vol:316, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:1738-1743

Vlachou D, Schlegelmilch T, Runn E, et al., 2006, The developmental migration of <i>Plasmodium</i> in mosquitoes, Current Opinion in Genetics & Development, Vol:16, ISSN:0959-437X, Pages:384-391

Vlachou D, Kafatos FC, 2005, The complex interplay between mosquito positive and negative regulators of <i>Plasmodium</i> development, Current Opinion in Microbiology, Vol:8, ISSN:1369-5274, Pages:415-421

Vlachou D, Schlegelmilch T, Christophides GK, et al., 2005, Functional genomic analysis of midgut epithelial responses in <i>Anopheles</i> during <i>Plasmodium</i> invasion, Current Biology, Vol:15, ISSN:0960-9822, Pages:1185-1195

Vlachou D, Zimmermann T, Cantera R, et al., 2004, Real-time, <i>in vivo</i> analysis of malaria ookinete locomotion and mosquito midgut invasion, Cellular Microbiology, Vol:6, ISSN:1462-5814, Pages:671-685

Christophides GK, Vlachou D, Kafatos FC, 2004, Comparative and functional genomics of the innate immune system in the malaria vector <i>Anopheles gambiae</i>, Immunological Reviews, Vol:198, ISSN:0105-2896, Pages:127-148

Christophides GK, Zdobnov E, Barillas-Mury C, et al., 2002, Immunity-related genes and gene families in <i>Anopheles gambiae</i>, Science, Vol:298, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:159-165

Vlachou D, Lycett G, Sidén-Kiamos I, et al., 2001, <i>Anopheles gambiae</i> laminin interacts with the P25 surface protein of <i>Plasmodium berghei</i> ookinetes, Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, Vol:112, ISSN:0166-6851, Pages:229-237

Sidén-Kiamos I, Vlachou D, Margos G, et al., 2000, Distinct roles for Pbs21 and Pbs25 in the in vitro ookinete to oocyst transformation of <i>Plasmodium berghei</i>, Journal of Cell Science, Vol:113, ISSN:0021-9533, Pages:3419-3426

Vlachou D, Konsolaki M, Tolias PP, et al., 1997, The autosomal chorion locus of the medfly Ceratitis capitata .1. Conserved synteny, amplification and tissue specificity but sequence divergence and altered temporal regulation, Genetics, Vol:147, ISSN:0016-6731, Pages:1829-1842

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