Københavns Universitet

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Molecular mechanisms of P. falciparum pathogenesis and immunity at Københavns Universitet


Malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum infections result in over 400.000 deaths and 200 million clinical cases each year. Malaria symptoms arise from the binding of parasite-infected red blood cells to human protein receptors on endothelial cell and immune cells.

By binding in the host´s microvasculature, the parasites escape splenic clearance. The binding of human receptors is mediated by variant protein families called PfEMP1, which are exported onto the surface of the infected red blood cell.

Immunity to malaria is acquired by the development of antibodies targeting PfEMP1.


The aim of this project is to develop cellular methods to resolve the molecular process of PfEMP1 –mediated sequestration to human endothelium and test experimental vaccines inhibiting it.


Development of in vitro and cellular assays for exploring P. falciparum parasite-infected erythrocytes binding to endothelial cells and human receptors. Design and test of RNA, DNA and protein-based vaccines targeting PfEMP1 to combat severe childhood malaria.

The MSc project includes international collaborative activities and you will work closely with other members of our research team located at 11th floor at the Mærsk Building.

Here, you will also be part of a larger research team cluster and shared laboratory facilities known as Centre for Medical Parasitology at ISIM, SUND, KU. (https://cmp.ku.dk/research/teamdiscovery/).


We are looking for a Student of Human biology, Parasitology, Molecular Biomedicine or related disciplines with an interest in cellular assays and host-parasite interactions in infectious disease immunity. Students with interest in bioinformatics and protein modelling are also welcome for related projects.

For more information, please contact
Thomas Lavstsen at thomasl@sund.ku.dk

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