Tilley laboratory: Measuring and modelling malaria parasites to develop new antimalarials

Group Leader Email Number Webpage
Professor Leann Tilley ltilley@unimelb.edu.au +61 3 8344 2227 View page

Research Overview

Photo of Professor Leann Tilley Professor Leann Tilley (left) receiving The 2017 Bob Robertson Award of the Australian Society for Biophysics

As part of her Australian Laureate Fellowship Program, with funding from the Australian Research Council, Professor Tilley created the Georgina Sweet Award for Women in Quantitative Bioscience. For further details:

Georgina Sweet Laureate Professorship

Malaria parasite-infected erythrocytes

Every minute, one child in Africa dies from malaria. Around the world, the mosquito-borne parasite kills about 450,000 people each year, most of them children and pregnant women, while another 200 million people suffer illness as a result of malaria infections.

Carried by the anopheles mosquito, the tiny malaria parasite invades the victim's red blood cells where it starts devouring the red cell haemoglobin and changing the cells so that the infected red blood cells stick to blood vessel walls. This leads to the typical symptoms of fever and headaches, but in severe cases results in coma and death.

electron tomography of the malaria parasite Electron tomography of the malaria parasite, P. falciparum. The rendered models show different stages of development of the parasite in its host, a red blood cell.

The Tilley lab is working as part of a global effort to understand and control malaria. We undertake research in the areas of cell biology and drug development related to the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. We are particularly interested in how the parasite alters the erythrocyte surface to cause malaria pathology, as well as the remarkable transformation that turns parasites banana-shaped and allows them to be transmitted from a human host to a mosquito vector. We also investigate the action of and resistance to artemisinin, with a view to designing better antimalarial drugs.


Postdoctoral Fellows

Matthew Dixon
Simon Cobbold
Stanley (Cheng) Xie
Boyin Liu
Adam Blanch
Natalie Spillman
Con Dogovski

Research Associates

Juan Nunez-Iglesias (Melbourne Bioinformatics; 50% time with Tilley lab)

Lab Co-ordinators

Shannon Williams
Dean Andrew

Research Assistants

David Gillett
Snigdha Tiash
Thisara Ranasinghe

Graduate Students

Tuo Yang
Laure Dumont
Oliver Looker
Emily Crisafulli
Arman Namvar

Visiting Students

Theana Johnson
Imie Nieuwland

Research Publications

Click here for the results of a PubMed search of Leann's publications
Click here for the results of a Google Scholar analysis of Leann's publications