Dr Diana Hansen

Dr Diana Hansen

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Dr Diana Hansen using a microscope

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Dr
Diana
Hansen

BMedSc (Hons) PhD Buenos Aires

Laboratory Head

Lab focus: mechanisms of pathogenesis and immunity to malaria and severe dengue fever

Our research focuses on finding solutions to tackle two devastating mosquito-borne infectious diseases: malaria and dengue. Together these account for 600 million clinical cases worldwide annually.

Unlike other infections in which one single encounter with the pathogen is enough to induce long-lasting protection, immunity to malaria might take decades to develop in endemic areas. The Hansen lab investigates mechanisms by which Plasmodium infections prevent the acquisition of immunity.

There is no specific treatment for dengue and no validated way to predict which patients will progress to life-threatening manifestations of disease. Our research focusses on identifying molecular processes predisposing to severe dengue.

Research interest

Our research focusses on understanding mechanisms underlying the slow acquisition of immunity to malaria. This work is undertaken in order to design therapeutic approaches to improve the induction immune responses to the Plasmodium parasite, including effective anti-malaria vaccines. 

Clinical immunity to malaria is largely dependent on effective antibody responses. In collaboration with partners in malaria-endemic countries, our group investigates how the induction of antibody-mediated immunity is dysregulated during symptomatic malaria and how constant exposure to Plasmodium parasites over time modulates the development of these responses.

The clinical course for dengue is difficult to predict mostly because the specific pathways influencing severity to disease are not understood. To address this challenge, our group pursues a comprehensive immunological and molecular approach to uncover key mechanisms involved in the development of severe dengue. 

Obtaining this information is of vital importance to design novel diagnostic tools as well as therapeutic approaches to treat complicated dengue.

 

Dr Diana Hansen and Professor Alan Cowman

Researchers at the Institute have received new funding to tackle malaria and dengue fever in the Asia Pacific region.