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Prof. Melissa Kapulu

Principal Investigator

Human infection studies – Leveraging human infection models to establish and adapt new models, understand naturally acquired immunity, identify vaccine candidates, and evaluate efficacy of interventions. Work centres around better understanding naturally acquired immunity for the design, development and testing of vaccines currently for the infectious diseases for malaria and Shigella. This involves developing and/or establishing tools and models to identify, characterise, understand, and evaluate vaccines, particularly the controlled human infection models, in disease endemic populations. We have established the controlled human malaria infection platform in Kilifi Kenya and furthermore, an enteric, Shigella, human infection model will be established and an establishment of an induced blood-stage malaria infection model within the same setting. Thus, the programme of work focuses on addressing the following broad aims: 1. Interrogating immunity (vaccine-induced and naturally acquired) to malaria (utilising CHMI vaccine efficacy model; CHMI transmission model, malaria surveillance cohort, previous cross-sectional and longitudinal cohorts (AFIRM and LAMB cohorts) and Shigella (utilising Shigella HIS and archived samples from Biobank) – protein production, microarray, mass spectrometry and cytometry, systems serology, RNA sequencing 2. Understanding role of microbiome influence in host immunity (utilising Shigella HIS and archived samples from Biobank) – NGS 3. Identification of molecular markers of malaria transmission – RNA sequencing (transcriptomics), cDNA microarray, and mosquito feeding assays 4. Utilisation of a structure-aided approach to vaccine design for malaria transmission and Shigella – cell sorting, BCR sequencing, and monoclonal antibody production