David Plaza

Assistant professor

Research description

Malaria causes half a million deaths every year and a fully protective vaccine is urgently needed. Plasmodium falciparum uses antigenic variability as an escape strategy from the host’s immune response; furthermore, structural variation and the widespread presence of insertions and deletions drive a large proportion of the genomic diversity in the parasite. Therefore, the design of a strain-transcending vaccine against malaria requires a careful selection of antigens that accounts for the sequence diversity observed in proteins on a population level. Despite recent advances in high throughput sequencing, the antigenic repertoire of P. falciparum is largely unknown. Nevertheless, several proteins of the parasite have been developed into subunit-based vaccines while just a few have taken the polymorphic nature of the parasite's antigens into consideration. In my project, I'm trying to bridge the gap existing between the molecular epidemiology and genetic diversity of polymorphic antigens shown to be important in the development of naturally-acquired immunity to P. falciparum, and the design of a vaccine formulation capable of eliciting strain-transcending protection against human malaria.

Teaching portfolio

I currently support the course "Molecular Medicine - Cardiometabolic and Infectious Diseases" that is part of the undergrad programme in Biomedicine. I'm also a lecturer for the PhD course "Basic Immunology" that belongs to the programme in Allergy, Immunology and Inflammation of the Department of Medicine, Solna.   


ETH Zurich. Zurich, Switzerland. PhD in Microbiology and Immunology. Institute of Microbiology. Group Prof. Dr. Markus Aebi and Prof. Dr. Markus Künzler

Uppsala University. Uppsala, Sweden. MSc in Biology (Immunology and Infection Biology). Faculty of Science and Technology. Group Prof. Dr. Sandra Kleinau

Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Bogotá, Colombia. BSc in Biology. Department of Biology. Faculty of Science. Group Prof. Dr. Lucy Gabriela Delgado