Professor Wai-Hong Tham

Professor Wai-Hong Tham



Professor Wai-Hong Tham in a laboratory



BA UC Berkeley PhD Princeton

Laboratory Head

My research group studies how malaria parasites enter red blood cells and evade the immune system to establish successful infection.  Malaria is one of the planet’s deadliest diseases. Its symptoms are caused by the repeated cycles of growth of the parasite inside red blood cells.

We try to decipher the interactions between parasite and human proteins that allow malaria parasites to enter into red blood cells and to actively escape from immune attack. Our goal is to identify new ways to prevent blood stage infection, thereby preventing malaria disease.

Research interest

We have a strong interest in host-parasite interactions that govern successful malaria infection. In particular we study parasite proteins that are required for entry into red blood cells that are completely exposed to human immune system.

My lab combines molecular, cellular and structural biology methods with parasitology to study the mechanisms by which parasite proteins recognise and bind to human proteins. Using this information, we design and generate new inhibitors or antibodies that is able to block the interaction and hence, stop the recurrent infection in the host.

We work closely with partners in malaria endemic regions to ensure that our research remains relevant in combating this disease.


Health Minister Greg Hunt with Institute researchers

The Australian Government will invest $3M in Walter and Eliza Hall Institute research programs that are developing new classes of medicines for COVID-19.

Visualisation of SARS-CoV-2

WEHI researchers are studying ‘nanobodies’ – tiny immune proteins made by alpacas – in a bid to understand whether they might be effective in blocking SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Photograph of Associate Professor Wai-Hong Tham in her office

The Australian Government is providing $5 million to researchers at WEHI to find a new, effective and safe antibody treatment to combat COVID-19.