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Immunity and Inflammation

Basic and translational research on immunity and inflammation, and microbial diversity (pathogens and microbiome) to inform vaccine and biomarker development and therapeutic interventions.

Research projects

Lab Head Name Professor Alyssa Barry
Lead Investigator/s  

Professor Alyssa Barry

Myo Naung (PhD candidate)


Project theme/s Antigen diversity, Plasmodium falciparum, Vaccine candidates
Project Description  

The partial efficacy of the recently approved P. falciparum vaccines has been in part attributed to the extensive genetic diversity of antigens being developed as subunit vaccines. Antigen diversity is one strategy of malaria parasites to evade host immune responses – a process known as an immune evasion. Myo’s project focused on identifying the diversity of the leading P. falciparum vaccine candidate antigens and determining critical immune escape genes and specific polymorphisms that are associated with immune evasion. The research provided evidence of allele-specific immunity in malaria through the use of population genetics, bioinformatics, genomics, and serological data. His research provides a vital framework for the prioritization of vaccine candidate antigens and a ‘serotype classification system’ to identify immune escape polymorphisms and for evaluating strain specific efficacy during vaccine trials.


Deakin University



Collaborator/s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, University of Melbourne.
Publications Global diversity and balancing selection of 23 leading Plasmodium falciparum candidate vaccine antigens
Naung MT, Martin E, Munro J, Mehra S, Guy AJ, et al. (2022) Global diversity and balancing selection of 23 leading Plasmodium falciparum candidate vaccine antigens. PLOS Computational Biology 18(2): e1009801. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1009801

Lab Head Name Professor Alyssa Barry
Lead Investigator/s  

Professor Alyssa Barry

Paolo Bareng (PhD candidate)


Project theme/s Antigen diversity, Plasmodium vivax, Vaccine candidates
Project Description  

In recent years, innovative strategies to control malaria infection have significantly reduced the global burden of malaria.  However, there has been limited understanding on the genetic diversity of Plasmodium vivax and its impact on the global malaria control and elimination campaign. Considering that P. vivax is proven to be more resistant to malaria control measures, deeper insights on the diversity and dynamics of vivax natural population is extremely important. Paolo’s research employs the use of population genetics, in silico analysis, structural bioinformatics, and genomics to examine the global P. vivax antigenic diversity as well as the underlying amino acid changes on the genes associated with immune escape. Identifying immunologically relevant genes and allelic substitutions would enable further studies on the relationship between vivax transmission and immunity, and most importantly, guide vaccine developers into making informed decisions in designing a broadly efficacious multivalent vaccine against P. vivax infection.


Institution/s Deakin University

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