Professor Ivo Mueller

Professor Ivo Mueller

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Professor Ivo Mueller

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Professor
Ivo
Mueller

MSc PhD Basel 

Joint Division Head

Our laboratory is investigating how malaria parasites and human hosts interact, and developing novel tools and interventions to aid malaria elimination in the Asia-Pacific. A special focus of our research is the control and elimination of P. vivax.

Particular aims of our research are to understand:

  • Which people in malaria-affected communities are getting infected with Plasmodium parasites?
  • Who among these people are at high risk of getting sick with malaria and what factors contribute to getting sick with malaria?
  • Who contributes most to the onwards transmission of the parasites to the mosquitoes?
  • How does P. vivax relapse contribute to the burden of vivax infection, morbidity and transmission?
  • Is it possible to identify people at highest risk of vivax relapses and if yes, can we prevent these relapses by administering preventative radical cure?

We are using this knowledge to monitor the impact of malaria control, and to develop new interventions to treat malaria, prevent new infections and identify and target areas of high malaria transmission risk.  Our ultimate goal is to contribute to malaria elimination programs.

Research interest

Malaria

We aim to study malaria host-parasite interactions with a particular focus on gaining a better understanding of:

  • Differential patterns of natural acquisition of immune responses and their association with parasite exposure and protection from infection.
  • Parasite dynamics within the human host and the genetic diversity and evolutionary history of parasites.
  • Transmission epidemiology and biology of Plasmodium gametocytes and sporozoites.
  • Host immune responses to Plasmodium infection and how they relate to exposure history and protection against clinical disease
  • The role of hypnozoite in the increase resilience of P. vivax to control and elimination. 
  • Host genetic adaptation to malaria.

Major foci of our research are:

  • Comparative studies of P. vivax and P. falciparum.
  • The impact of intensified control on host-parasite interactions.
  • Development of serological markers of recent exposure.
  • Design of novel interventions to attach the hidden P. vivax reservoir.
  • P. vivax sporozoite and hypnozoite biology.
  • Model different aspects of P. vivax control and elimination. 

These questions are being addressed with a range of population-based studies in malaria-affected regions of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Thailand, Cambodia and Brazil that combine well-designed epidemiological and clinical studies with in-depth molecular, immunological and systems biology studies of host-parasite interactions. 

COVID-19

More recently we have extended into studying COVID-19 infection. Leveraging our experience from malaria serology, we have developed novel approached to COVID-19 sero-surveillance and are studying the acquisition and maintenance of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 infections.

In parallel, we are supporting health authorities in the Pacific with planning for and managing the COVID-19 pandemic by modelling different SARS-CoV-2 transmission scenarios and development of analytical tools to monitor the local progression of the pandemic.

 


Key endemic country partners

Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, Goroka, Papua New Guinea

Institut Pasteur Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Cambodia,

Eijkman Institute of Molecular Biology & Eijkman-Oxford Clinical Research Unit (EOCRU), Jakarta, Indonesia

University of Indonesia (UI), Jakarta, Indonesia

Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand

Vector Borne Disease Program, Ministry of Health, Honiara, Solomon Islands

Tropical Medicine Foundation Dr. Heitor Vieira Dourado, Manaus, Brazil

FIOCRUZ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Universidad Peruana Gayetano Herredia, Lima, Peru

Equator Technical University (UTE) & Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), Quito, Ecuador

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The COVID PROFILE study will use blood samples from people who have recovered from COVID-19, and their close contacts, to look in detail at how immunity to the disease develops, how long it lasts and what happens when immunity is lost. 

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