Dr Abdirahman Abdi


Dr Abdirahman Abdi


Research Groups: malaria pathogenesis and immunity


I am a Senior Research Scientist at the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi, Kenya with a background in Biochemistry. My main interests are in understanding the host-parasite interactions important for malaria pathogenesis and immunity with the aim of developing new interventions. 

My current research work focuses on small vesicles released by all cells to their extracellular space which are generally referred to as extracellular vesicles (EVs). Their main function is for intercellular communication by serving as vehicles for transferring signalling competent proteins and functional RNA packaged within the vesicles to adjacent and/or distant recipient cells to control cellular response. I study these vesicles to understand the interaction between malaria parasites and the human host that lead to severe disease. I study both the content and the functional role of these vesicles to identify new interventions. This work was initially funded through a Wellcome Trust Training Fellowship (2014-2015) and was further consolidated by another fellowship from the Wellcome Trust (International Intermediate Fellowship 2018-2023). In my research, I apply multi-omics approach (genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic) coupled with cellular biology including cellular immunology. 


In addition to malaria, I collaborate with Prof Jay Berkley to study the “omics” of EVs circulating in human body fluids such as blood to understand the aetiology of common illness in children where the clinical syndrome strongly suggests infection, but current diagnostic methods have not identified a causative organism. I also study EVs circulating in blood to dissect the metabolic processes that mediate the interaction between infection and undernutrition in children and in breast milk to understand the interaction between breastmilk content and nutritional status of the child.  



lecturer at Pwani University, Kilifi; Editorial board member, Molecular and Biochemical parasitology Journal 


  • Mohamed Karim Maghraby, Bo Li, Lijun Chi, Catriona Ling, Abderrahim Benmoussa, Patrick Provost, Andrea C Postmus, Abdirahman Abdi, Agostino Pierro, Celine Bourdon, Robert H J Bandsma (2021) Extracellular vesicles isolated from milk can improve gut barrier dysfunction induced by malnutrition. Scientific Reports. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-86920-w 
  • Abdirahman I. Abdi, Lu Yu, Martin Rono, David Coulding, Philip Bejon, Jyoti Choudhary and Julian C. Rayner (2017): Proteomic analysis of extracellular vesicles from a Plasmodium falciparum clinical isolate from Kenya defines a core parasite secretome.WellcomeOpenRes.doi:10.12688/wellcomeopenres.11910.2.  
  • Abdirahman I. Abdi George M. Warimwe, Michelle K. Muthui, Cheryl A. Kivisi, Gregory W. Fegan, Esther W. Kiragu, Peter C. Bull (2016) Global selection of Plasmodium falciparum virulence antigen expression by host antibodies. Scientific Report.doi: 10.1038/srep19882. 
  • Joshua Tan, Kathrin Pieper, Luca Piccoli Abdirahman Abdi, et al, (2016).  A LAIR-1 insertion creates broadly reactive antibodies against malaria variant antigens. Nature.  doi: 10.1038/nature16450. 
  •  Abdirahman I. Abdi, et al 2015: Malarial Retinopathy is associated with low Plasmodium falciparum var gene expression in Kenyan children with cerebral malaria. Scientific Reports, doi: 10.1038/srep18034. 


Group research description:

Our group focuses on understanding host immune responses to HIV infection with an overall aim of informing vaccine development and interventions.

Group members: 

Current members, Kioko Mwikali (PhD student), Jeremiah Wanyama (MSc Immunology student), Christine Kalekye (MSc Immunology student), Brenda Karumbo (MSc, Bioinformatic student), Shaban Mwangi (Research Assistant) 

Former students:

Everline Onyango (MSc Immunology, graduated 2021), Emily Odipo (MSc statistic, graduated 2021), Emmanuel Matano (MSc Immunology, defended thesis, awaiting graduation)