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Infectious Diseases Systems Epidemiology Group

Head: Professor Alyssa Barry

Humans and pathogens exist in complex populations and environments, which impacts disease transmission and risk, prevention, treatment and public health responses.

Our group is using cutting edge technologies to characterise malaria parasites and their hosts, combining genomics, immune (antibody) profiling and epidemiological data using a variety of analytical approaches (bioinformatics, population genetics and biostatistics) to answer key questions in malaria biology and epidemiology such as: 

  • How does changing transmission (as a result of environment or control) impact malaria parasite populations? 
  • What factors drive resurgent and resistant malaria?
  • Why does asymptomatic malaria become more prevalent at low transmission?
  • How do malaria parasites evade host immunity?
  • How do host genetics and immunity influence disease outcome?

Our work is informing strategies for malaria control and elimination including stratification of control efforts, diagnostics, drugs and vaccines. A critical component of our work is also to develop genomic surveillance capacity in malaria endemic countries.

Our research uses population-level systems biology together with epidemiological data to understand the interplay of host, pathogen and environment in driving patterns of infectious disease.

This knowledge is used to understand pathogen transmission and biology, evolution of drug resistance and immune escape, susceptibility of the host to disease, and to develop novel and high-resolution approaches for infectious disease surveillance.

We work closely with a large multidisciplinary network of local and international collaborators including clinicians, field researchers and public health practitioners which ensures the translation of our research into more effective disease control strategies. We host researchers and other stakeholders from malaria endemic countries for advanced training in genomic technology and applications.

In addition to our malaria work, we are interested in emerging infectious diseases such as yaws, Buruli ulcer and COVID-19. The working group includes researchers based at Burnet Institute in Melbourne, and Deakin University in Geelong. 

Key affiliations: 

  • Systems Epidemiology of Infection Group, Institute for Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Translation (IMPACT), School of Medicine, Deakin University
  • Walter and Eliza Hall Institute - University of Melbourne
Informing strategies

for malaria control and elimination including stratification of control efforts, diagnostics, drugs and vaccines.


genomic surveillance capacity in malaria endemic countries.

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Professor Alyssa Barry

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.