Principle Investigator

Nirbhay Kumar, PhD 


                                                             KUMAR LAB


Lab Personnel

AvikAvik Biswas, PhD

Avik is working on the development of DNA vaccines to block malaria transmission. DNA vaccines often elicit poor immunogenicity. Avik is modifying DNA vaccines to induce potent immune activation with long lasting immune memory. If successful, Avik's research will suggest a way to develop an effective vaccine to reduce or stop malaria transmission.




Yi Yi Cao, PhD

Yi's research work focuses on Plasmodium vivax transmission blocking vaccine. Currently, there are only a few vaccine candidates for P. vivax under clinical and preclinical evaluation in contrast to P. falciparum. Yi is trying to develop protein and DNA vaccine based on P. vivax 4845 (Pvs4845), a leading sexual stage antigen for transmission blocking vaccine. Yi is also developing transgenic murine malaria parasite expressing Pvs4845 to evaluate the potency of transmission blocking vaccine using a mouse model.



AnushaAnusha Gopalakrishnan, PhD

Anusha's research involves evaluating the role of macromolecular components constituting the functional Plasmodium "recombinosome" during Homologous Recombiantion and Double strand break repair in the various life cycle stages of the parasite. In a recent study Anusha has shown opposing roles for two forms of RPA1 protein in DNA strand exchange and DNA repair. She is also studying the role of antimalarials in DNA damage. She has also evaluated the role of nanoparticles in improving the transfection efficiency of P. falciparum. Anusha's doctoral thesis dealt with different aspects of gene expression to understand host-parasite interactions in P.falciparum.



Rajesh Kumar, PhD

Rajesh is working on the development of Malaria Transmission blocking vaccine.Plasmodium falciparum ookinete surface protein Pfs25, expressed in the sexual stages of malaria parasite, is a well established promising target for malaria transmission blocking vaccine. The current study deals with characterization and evaluation of functional efficacy of codon harmonized recombinant Pfs25 expressed in E. coli. Rajesh worked on leishmaniasis at National Institute of Pathology (ICMR), Delhi (India) and his Ph.D was awarded from Birla Institute of Technology & Sciences, Pilani (India) which was focused on the characterization of parasite isolates and evaluation of localized and circulating immunological response in Leishmania infection.

DibyaDibya Datta

As a graduate student in the Kumar lab, Dibya's research is focusing on the development of human malaria transmission-blocking vaccines using a DNA based vaccination platform. In addition, the scope of Dibya's research encompasses testing various methods for improving the immunogenicity of transmission-blocking DNA vaccine candidates. Another aspect of her research involves finding alternative modes of vaccine delivery and techniques to better quantify candidate vaccine efficacy. She comes from a background in biochemistry and molecular biology gained over her bachelors and masters in biotechnology. She  endeavors to combine her background and research proficiencies with those earned as a doctoral student of public health and tropical medicine to develop an analytical, problem-solving perspective that overlays the fields of basic science and global public health.



Kristen Merino

Kristen aspires to investigate and intervene the burden of infectious disease. As a doctoral student, Kristen is investigating antigen processing pathways for antigens containing disulphide bonds constrained conformational epitopes. She is working on Pfs48/45 as a model protein which presents as many as seven disulfide bonds. She is looking at various aspects of cellular and humoral immune responses.




Department of Tropical Medicine, 1440 Canal Street, Suite 2301, New Orleans, LA 70112, 504-988-3558