close Icon

Immunity to malaria and infectious diseases during pregnancy

Immunological and physiological changes during pregnancy render pregnant women to be more susceptible to, and more severely affected by infectious diseases. How the maternally acquired immune response changes throughout pregnancy in both the presence and absence of pathogens remains unknown.

Using malaria (the most important parasitic pathogen in pregnancy) as a model, we aim to address fundamental questions on the modulation of antibody acquisition and maintenance during pregnancy and assess the ability to boost antibody responses upon re-exposure to pathogens in pregnant women.


Using samples from several established longitudinal cohorts of pregnant women and infants in Asia and Africa, we will address questions of antibody acquisition and maintenance through high-throughput antibody assays and epidemiological analyses.

This research will improve our understanding of the development and maintenance of immunity against infectious diseases in pregnant women and the susceptibility of pregnant women to infectious pathogens. The findings will enable us to develop epidemiological frameworks for further comprehensive immunological studies of malaria and other pathogens in pregnant and non-pregnant individuals, assess the usefulness of sero-epidemiological tools for population sentinel surveillance in this high-risk group, and inform vaccine development of candidate malaria vaccines for the use in pregnant women.

Freya Fowkes

Professor Freya J.I. Fowkes

Contact Professor Freya J.I. Fowkes to find out more information about the project.



  • National Health and Medical Research Council

Partners +

  • Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, Thailand
  • Mahidol Oxford Research Unit, Thailand
  • The University of Melbourne, Australia