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Malaria researcher, Dr James Beeson and his lab team have recently joined Burnet’s Centre for Immunology.
The Beeson Lab, previously based at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI) in Melbourne, will focus on understanding immunity to malaria through clinical and population studies in malaria-endemic countries, and malaria vaccine development.
They will also undertake research into the problems that malaria causes in maternal and child health, study malaria cell biology and antimalarial drug discovery, and have some involvement in malaria intervention studies.
Major clinical and population studies are undertaken in Kenya, Papua New Guinea and Thailand through collaborations with national research institutes based in those countries.
Dr Beeson has both medical and public health training, and has developed a research career in immunity to malaria.
As a young medical student in Africa, and later working as a physician in a Thai refugee camp, he told Cosmos Magazine in an interview in 2007 that witnessing first hand the devastating effects of the disease compelled him to undertake a PhD on malaria in pregnancy.
“Every morning you’d see woman after woman with malaria,” he recalls, “with severe anaemia and very low birth weight babies.”
Dr Freya Fowkes (previously with the Beeson Lab) has also joined Burnet and will lead a Malaria Epidemiology Group, together with Dr Beeson.
This group will focus on immunological biomarkers for vaccine trials, disease surveillance and evaluating the impact of interventions for malaria. The group will be based in the Centres for Population Health and Immunology.