Using parasite population genomics to improve understanding of malaria epidemiology


  • Prof Dominic Kwiatkowski

    University of Oxford

  • Prof Gil McVean

    University of Oxford

  • Prof Philip Bejon

    KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme

  • Prof Arjen Dondorp

    Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit

  • Prof Peter Gething

    University of Oxford

  • Dr Abdoulaye Djimde

    University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies of Bamako

  • Dr Mara Lawniczak

    Wellcome Sanger Institute

Project summary

Two major challenges to controlling malaria are finding where best to focus limited resources for maximum effect and how to combat the spread of drug resistance. There is a pressing need for better information about the parasite population, such as how it evolves from year to year and the routes by which drug resistance is likely to spread.

This project is a collaboration between laboratory and computational scientists who are developing genomic technologies and statistical methodologies, and clinicians, epidemiologists and public health agencies who are working to control malaria in the field. Our goal is to develop simple and inexpensive ways for local health workers to monitor the parasite population by collecting samples from patients with malaria. We will then analyse thousands of these samples by parasite genome sequencing and use this large amount of data to gain a detailed understanding of how the parasite population is moving, changing and evolving over time and space. We will translate this scientific understanding into actionable knowledge for malaria control programmes.  

We will use this approach to investigate local patterns of malaria transmission in Africa and the spread of antimalarial drug resistance in South-east Asia.