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Professor Alyssa Barry

Honorary Principal Research Fellow
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Professor Alyssa Barry is Head of the Infectious Diseases Systems Epidemiology Working Group. She also holds a co-appointment as Associate Professor of Systems Epidemiology of Infection with Deakin University’s Institute for Physical and Mental Health and Clinical Translation (IMPACT), where some of her team is based.

Alyssa was previously a Laboratory Head in the Population Health and Immunity Division at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and the Department of Medical Biology, University of Melbourne from 2011-19. She has also held positions at the Burnet Institute (2006-11), New York University School of Medicine (USA, 2004-6) and University of Oxford (UK, 2000-2004). Alyssa was a recipient of two prestigious NHMRC Postdoctoral Fellowships, was a veski Innovation Fellow, and received the Georgina Sweet Award for Women in Quantitative Biosciences in 2017.

She has been CI on six NHMRC Project Grants (four as CIA) and is a Technical Director of a DFAT IndoPacific Centre for Health Security grant supporting the development of molecular surveillance capacity in Papua New Guinea. She leads genomics research in two NIH-funded International Centres for Excellence in Malaria Research (ICEMR) programs in Asia-Pacific and West Africa. She is also a member of the Australian Centre of Research Excellence in Malaria Elimination (ACREME), the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (APMEN) and the Malaria Genomic Epidemiology Network (MalariaGEN).

Research in the lab seeks to understand the complex dynamic that exists between host, pathogen and environment that contributes to patterns of exposure, infection and disease. The research explores systems biology on a population level using well-characterised epidemiological studies and has a strong translational focus. Current projects include (i) malaria parasite genomic surveillance to understand transmission dynamics and antimalarial drug resistance and how they change in response to interventions; (ii) characterising malaria vaccine candidate diversity and how this contributes to immune escape; (iii) understanding how immunity develops to diverse malaria parasites, and (iv) identifying host and parasite factors contributing to asymptomatic malaria.

The group is using cutting edge technologies to characterise malaria parasites and their hosts, combining this information with epidemiological data and advanced analytical approaches (bioinformatics, population genetics and biostatistics) to answer key questions in malaria biology and epidemiology. Our work is informing strategies for malaria control and elimination including stratification of control efforts, diagnostics, drugs and vaccines.

We work closely with a large network of local and international collaborators including field researchers and malaria control programs. We frequently host trainees for advanced molecular training. In addition to our malaria work, we have contributed to research on other infectious diseases such as yaws and melioidosis, and recently have embarked on new projects focusing on the Buruli ulcer epidemic in Victoria and COVID-19. Alyssa’s Deakin/Burnet co-appointment aims to build further collaboration in genomics, infectious diseases and microbiome research across the two organisations.

  • 2000: PhD, University of Melbourne
  • 1996: BSc(Hons) University of Tasmania
  • 2017-2019: Associate Professor, Department of Medical Biology, University of Melbourne
  • 2011-2017: Senior Research Fellow, Department of Medical Biology, University of Melbourne
  • 2006-2011: Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Monash University
  • 2017: Georgina Sweet Award for Women in Quantitative Biosciences
  • 2008: veski Innovation Fellow
  • 2008: NHMRC Howard Florey Centenary Fellow
  • 2000: NHMRC/Royal Society(UK) Howard Florey Postdoctoral Fellow
  • 2015-2019: Group Leader, Population Health and Immunity Division, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
  • 2011-2015: Group Leader, Infection and Immunity Division, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
  • 2009-2011: Co-Laboratory Head, Centre for Population Health, Burnet Institute
  • 2006-2009: Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Population Health, Burnet Institute
  • 2004-2006: Instructor, New York University School of Medicine, New York, USA
  • 2001-2004: Senior Postdoctoral Fellow, Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  • 2000-2001: Postdoctoral Fellow, Wellcome Trust Centre for Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  • 1999-2000: Postdoctoral Research Officer, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia