Imperial College London

Dr Dina Vlachou

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences

Research Fellow
 
 
 
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Contact

 

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

 
 
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Location

 

612Sir Alexander Fleming BuildingSouth Kensington Campus

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Summary

 

Overview

Malaria genetics and functional genomics of vector/parasite interactions leading to human malaria transmission

My scientific interest is on malaria transmission biology. Malaria is an infectious disease caused by the protozoan parasite, Plasmodium, and transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes. Malaria affects almost half of the global population and kills 1-3 million people every year, the vast majority children aged below 5 in sub-Saharan Africa. I am leading the parasite group of the Vector Immunogenomics and Infection Laboratory (http://www.vigilab.org/) and my research is mainly focusing on malaria genetics and functional genomics of vector-parasite interactions leading to human malaria transmission. I aim to dissect the genetic, cellular and molecular interactions between the mosquito and the parasite, providing insights into how parasites interact with and evade mosquito defenses. The ultimate aim is to guide the development of novel strategies to control transmission of the disease.

Research projects

1) Plasmodium sexual and sporogonic development in the mosquito midgut

(a) Developmental functional genomics of the model malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei; (b) Genomic and genetic dissection of the regulatory mechanisms of the Plasmodium ookinete-to-oocyst transition; and (c) Identification of parasite molecules that putatively interact with the mosquito vector and may function in mosquito immune evasion.

2) Human malaria transmission in Africa

(a) Functional genomic analysis of parasite/mosquito interactions in naturally interacting populations;(b) Characterization of similarities and differences in mosquito and parasite gene expression in various geographic locations; and (c) Identification of mosquito and parasite targets for transmission blocking interventions.

3) Mosquito local epithelial immunity

Cellular and molecular analysis of local epithelial responses of the mosquito midgut to invasion by the malaria parasite.

Funds

  • Co-Investigator of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Research Grant 79729/20: Investigation of the impact of the mosquito immune system on shaping the transmitted malaria parasite populations (04/2020-03/2023)
  • Scientific Coordinator and lead researcher in Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award to Prof George Christophides 107983/Z/15/Z: Anopheles-Plasmodium interactions: mosquito immune response and parasite immune evasion strategies (11/2015-10/2020)
  • Co-Investigator and PhD student co-advisor of the MSCA European Joint Doctorate Programme: High Performance Computing in Life Sciences, Engineering and Physics (HPC-LEAP; 10/2015-9/2019).
  • Joint grant holder and co-Investigator of the Wellcome Trust Project 093587Z/10/Z: Functional and population genomics of the Anopheles innate immune system and its interactions with malaria parasites (12/2010-7/2015). 
  • Co-Investigator and Work Package Leader of the FP7 Collaborative Project HEALTH-F3-2008-223736: TransMalariaBloc–Malaria Transmission Blocking by Vaccines,Drugs and Immune Mosquitoes: efficacy assessment and targets (12/2008-5/2013). http://www.transmalariabloc.org/team/dina-vlachou
  • Co-Investigator of the National Institutes of Health (NHI) grant P01 AI044220-07: Innate immunity in vertebrates and insects (2005-2009)

Research Staff

Chiamaka Ukegbu,

Ellen SC Bushell,

Jee-Sun Cho,

Katarzyna Sala,

Kathrin Witmer,

Lara Selles Vidal,

Nikolaos Trasanidis,

Nousin Emami,

Research Student Supervision

Akinosoglou, Karolina-Anthoula,, Anopheles/Plasmodium interactions at the ookinete-to-oocyst developmental transition

Antonio M. Mendes,, Comparative genomic analysis of the Anopheles gambiae responses to infection with Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium berghei

Caroline Harris,, Effects of natural diversity on the Anopheles gambiae response to Plasmodium falciparum

Chiamaka Valerie Ukegbu,, Molecular analysis of Plasmodium genes regulating the ookinete-to-oocyst developmental transition

Chiamaka Valerie Ukegbu,, Development of transgenic Plasmodium berghei lines as reporters to investigate the ookinete-to-oocyst

Chrysanthi Taxiarch,, Identification of targets of transmission blocking interventions in P. falciparum field isolates

Claire Scott,, Functional characterization of a Plasmodium protease essential for malaria transmission

Dafni Glinos,, Parasite-mosquito interactions leading to malaria transmission

Elizabeth Bal,, Genetic manipulation and phenotypic characterization of malaria parasite mutants in the mosquito Anopheles gambiae

Elizabeth Wilkins,, Generation of a reporter construct for blockade of Plasmodium developmental ookinete- to- oocyst transition

Ellen SC Bushell,, Plasmodium genes responsible for oocyst development and interaction with its Anopheline vector

Jee-Sun Cho,, Development of a dual co-infection system to investigate mosquito-parasite genotype*genotype interactions

Julie Baraut,, Characterisation of Anopheles Apolipophorin III and its role during malaria infection

Kathryn Lagrue,, Generation of a transgenic Plasmodium berghei expressing mCherry as a tool for studying interactions between the mosquito immune system and malaria parasites

Lara Seles Vidal,, Molecular analysis of genes involved in malaria parasite development in the mosquito midgut

Neil Mac Aogain,, Functional characterisation of the parasite/mosquito interactions leading to malaria transmission

Nikolaos Trasanidis,, Comparative and functional characterization of the A. gambiae and A. arabiensis responses to infection by sympatric P. falciparum field isolates

Rajeev Rai,, Functional characterization of two Plasmodium genes expressed during sexual development in the mosquito vector

Timm Schlegelmilch,, Functional genomic analysis of the Anopheles gambiae midgut invasion by Plasmodium parasites

Vianaliza Rajak,, Characterisation of Plasmodium berghei genes putatively involved in oocyst development