Malaria Research Centre

HISTORY

The Malaria Research Centre (MRC) was established as one of the two Centres of Excellence by UNIMAS in January 2006. This was in recognition of the major contributions to malaria research by Prof Balbir Singh, Prof Janet Cox-Singh and co-researchers at the Malaria Research Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. These two scientists joined UNIMAS in 1999 to establish laboratory-based research in the new Medical Faculty and with financial support from UNIMAS, they were instrumental in designing and equipping state-of-the-art research laboratories. The acquisition of research grants from Wellcome Trust, United Kingdom, the Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment and UNIMAS, enabled them to train young scientists and establish an active group of researchers working on malaria.

RESEARCH

The studies at the MRC are aimed at obtaining a greater understanding of the epidemiology, population genetics, clinical features and pathophysiology of malaria parasites in this region. One of our major discoveries was of a large focus in Sarawak of human infections with Plasmodium knowlesi, a parasite normally found in long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques. Subsequent reports of human knowlesi malaria in other parts of Malaysia and many countries in Southeast Asia have resulted in P. knowlesi being recognised as the fifth species of Plasmodium causing human malaria. We have recently characterised P. knowlesi malaria clinically and compared parasite diversity in the human and non-human hosts. Current studies are aimed at identifying parasite and host determinants that contribute to the differential susceptibility of humans to P. knowlesi infection. We are also characterising malaria parasites in orangutans and small mammals, and studying the interactions between P. falciparum and traditional medicinal plants used in endemic areas of Malaysian Borneo.

The MRC comprises senior scientists, postgraduates, and research assistants from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Faculty of Resource Science and Technology. We are working and have worked in close collaboration with colleagues from within and outside Malaysia. These include scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, St George’s University of London, the University of Western Australia, the Sarawak Health Department, the Sabah Wildlife Department and the Malaysian Institute of Medical Research. We are expanding and continuously looking for highly motivated postgraduate staff to join the MRC. Those interested in joining, please contact the Director of the MRC.

KEY RESEARCHERS OF THE MALARIA RESEARCH CENTRE

Prof Balbir Singh
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Director +6 082 292256
Prof Mohd Tajuddin Abdullah
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Senior Research Fellow +6 082 582472
Prof Sanjeev Krishna
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Honorary Principal Research Fellow +44 208 725 5836
Prof Janet Cox-Singh
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Honorary Senior Research Fellow +44 208 725 5798
Prof David Conway
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Honorary Senior Research Fellow +44 20 7927 2331
Mr Asmad Matusob
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Honorary Research Fellow +6 082 232635
Ms Angela Siner
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Research Fellow +6 082 292159
Mr Paul Divis
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Research Fellow +6 082 292220

PUBLICATIONS (Since 2004)

  1. Lee, K-S., Divis, P.C.S., Zakaria, S.K., Matusop, A., Julin, R.A., Cox-Singh, J., Conway, D.J. & Singh, B. (2011) Plasmodium knowlesi: Reservoir hosts and tracking the emergence in macaques and humans. PLoS Pathogens, 7(4): e1002015.
  2. Wong, P.S.J., Tan, C.H., Lee, V., Li, M.Z.I., Lee, K.S., Lee, P.J., Singh, B. & Ng, L.C. (2011) Molecular epidemiological investigation of Plasmodium knowlesi in humans and macaques in Singapore. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases  11, 131-135.
  3. Divis, P.C.S., Shokoples, S.E., Singh, B. & Yanow, S.K. (2010) A TaqMan real-time PCR assay for the detection and quantitation of Plasmodium knowlesi. Malaria Journal, 9, 344
  4. Daneshvar, C., Davis, T.M.E., Cox-Singh, J., Rafa’ee, M.Z., Zakaria, S.K., Divis, P.C.S. & Singh, B. (2010) Clinical and parasitological response to oral chloroquine and primaquine in uncomplicated human Plasmodium knowlesi infections. Malaria Journal, 9, 238.
  5. Cox-Singh, J., Singh, B. & Krishna, S. (2010) Plasmodium knowlesi: the fifth human malaria. In: Emerging Infections 9, Ed.: W.M. Sheld, M.L. Grayson & J.M. Hughes, ASM Press, Washington DC, USA; pp. 261 - 271.
  6. Cox-Singh, J., Hiu, J., Lucas, S.B., Divis, P.C., Zulkarnaen, M., Chandran, P., Wong, K.T., Adem, P., Zaki, S.R., Singh, B. & Krishna, S. (2010) Severe malaria - a case of fatal Plasmodium knowlesi infection with post-mortem findings. Malaria Journal, 9, 10.
  7. Ahouidi, A.D., Bei, A.K., Neafsey, D.E., Sarr, O., Volkman, S., Milner, D., Cox-Singh, J., Ferreira, M.U., Ndir, O., Premji, Z., Mboup, S., Duraisingh, M.T. (2010) Population genetic analysis of large sequence polymorphisms in Plasmodium falciparum blood-stage antigens. Infection, Genetics & Evolution, 10, 200-206.
  8. Daneshvar, C., Davis, T.M.E., Cox-Singh, J., Rafa’ee, M.Z., Zakaria, S.K., Divis, P.C.S. & Singh, B. (2009) Clinical and laboratory features of human Plasmodium knowlesi infections. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 49, 852-860.
  9. Singh, B. & Divis, P.C.S. (2009) Orangutans not infected with Plasmodium vivax or P. cynomolgi, Indonesia. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 15, 1657-1658.
  10. Lee, K-S., Cox-Singh, J., Brooke, G., Matusop, A. & Singh, B. (2009) Plasmodium knowlesi from archival blood films: further evidence that human infections are widely distributed and not newly emergent in Malaysian Borneo. International Journal for Parasitology, 39, 1125-1128.
  11. Myers, W.P., Myers, A.P., Cox-Singh, J., Lau, H.C., Mokuai, B. & Malley, R. (2009) Micro-geographic risk factors for malarial infection, Malaria Journal, 8, 27.
  12. Lee, K-S., Cox-Singh, J. & Singh, B. (2009) Morphological features and differential counts of Plasmodium knowlesi parasites in naturally acquired human infections. Malaria Journal, 8, 73.
  13. Bronner, U., Divis, P.C.S., Farnert, A. & Singh, B. (2009) Swedish traveller with Plasmodium knowlesi malaria after visiting Malaysian Borneo. Malaria Journal, 8, 15.
  14. Cox-Singh, J., Davis, T.M.E., Lee, K.S., Shamsul S.S.G., Matusop, A., Ratnam, S., Rahman, H.A., Conway, D.J. & Singh, B. (2008) Plasmodium knowlesi malaria in humans is widely distributed and potentially life threatening. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 46, 165-171.
  15. Cox-Singh, J. & Singh, B. (2008) Knowlesi malaria: newly emergent and of public health importance? Trends in Parasitology, 24, 406-410.
  16. Tan, C.H., Vythilingam, I., Chan, S.T., Matusop, M. & Singh, B. (2008) Bionomics of Anopheles latens in Kapit, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo in relation to the transmission of zoonotic simian malaria parasite Plasmodium knowlesi. Malaria Journal, 7, 52.
  17. Luchavez, J., Espino, F.E., Curameng, P., Espina, R., Bell, D., Chiodini, P.L., Nolder, D., Sutherland, C.J., Lee, K-S. & Singh, B. (2008) Human infections with Plasmodium knowlesi, the Philippines. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 14, 811-813.
  18. Thapa, S., Hollander, J., Linehan, M., Cox-Singh, J., Bista M.B., Thakur, G.D., Davis, W.A., & Davis, T.M.E. (2007). Comparison of artemether-lumefantrine with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine for the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Eastern Nepal.  American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 77: 423 – 430.
  19. Vythilingam, I., Tan, C.H., Asmad, M., Chan, S.T., Lee, K.S. & Singh, B. (2006) Natural transmission of Plasmodium knowlesi to humans by Anopheles latens in Sarawak, Malaysia. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 100, 1087-1088.
  20. Anthony, T.G., Conway, D.J., Cox-Singh, J., Shamsul, S.S.G., Matusop, A., Ratnam, S. & Singh, B. (2005) Fragmented population structure of Plasmodium falciparum in a region of declining endemicity. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 191, 1558-1564.
  21. Singh, B., Lee, K.S., Matusop, A., Radhakrishnan, A., Shamsul, S.S.G., Cox-Singh, J., Thomas, A.W. & Conway, D.J. (2004) A large focus of naturally acquired Plasmodium knowlesi infections in human beings. The Lancet, 363, 1017-1024.