Molecular Parasitology

The molecular parasitology laboratory was founded by the late Professor McManus, and is now headed by Professor Malcolm Jones. The laboratory leads the world in parasitic worm research with the goal of global control of neglected tropical helminthiases. The group translates laboratory findings into effective disease interventions paving the way for improved health outcomes. Along with a multidisciplinary collaborative team, the laboratory pioneers research on the development/application of schistosomiasis vaccines, in diagnostics, genomics and in tropical/international health, contributing a cohesive and remarkable body of 650 publications in an extensive career. Many are transformational, shaping policy/practice leading to improved treatment/control of worm infections with wide-scale application for informing government agencies, including Australian, globally on intervention options in other parasite-endemic communities.


  • Eliminating the major helminth worm diseases from the Lower Mekong Basin:

This cooperative research project involves scientists from Australia, Switzerland, Thailand, Lao PDR and Cambodia aiming to eliminate the major helminth parasites (intestinal worms and O. viverrini) in the Lower Mekong Basin countries. We will be trialling a novel multifaceted elimination program, including health education incorporating the Magic Glasses video, and we will use mathematical modelling and mapping techniques to predict impacts over time and for specific targeting of the interventions.

  • In collaboration with Chinese colleagues, we will continue, through to 2025, to monitor the national control schistosomiasis program in 16 sentinel villages in south China using field verified DNA-based diagnostic techniques we have developed. Dynamic mapping using GIS and RS procedures will identify pockets of transmission in order to guide suitable responses; and mathematical modelling will predict future Schistosoma japonicum transmission rates and determine the optimum/most cost-effective schistosomiasis intervention strategies.
  • Vaccination of water buffalo schistosomiasis transmission reservoirs in China and the Philippines can assist in long-term prevention of human (and animal) japonicum infection. We will test a combination vaccine of two protein components (SjTPI and SjLD1) for protective efficacy in bovines in blinded vaccine/challenge experiments with S. japonicum, exploring the immune responses generated. We will then undertake a double-blind CRT with the vaccine on the Island of Leyte in the Philippines where schistosomiasis prevalence exceeds 50% in many communities.
  • Low-cost DNA diagnostic tools for early parasitic worm detection: We are applying a revolutionary cellulose-based DNA-dipstick approach for parasitic worm detection. We will combine the dipstick and loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) to provide rapid, at point of care (PoC) DNA diagnosis of subjects with schistosomes or intestinal worms.
  • Improved serological diagnosis of African and Asian schistosomiasis: We are developing an optimal IgG-ELISA, based on two well-defined schistosome antigens, to aid in the morbidity control and elimination of African schistosomiasis. We will then advance and test a colloidal gold immunochromatography assay based on these two antigens for rapid diagnosis of African schistosomiasis at the Point of Care.
  • Programmed CRISPR mediated technologies in schistosome and other helminths: We are exploiting CRISPR-based systems (CRISPR/Cas9, Cas12/Cas13 and CRISPR interference/activation) for gene functional studies, which will provide powerful approaches in the identification of new drug and vaccine targets and the unravelling of potential drug resistance mechanisms. In addition, by using CRISPR-Cas13  technology, we will develop ultra-sensitive, specific and field-friendly diagnostic tools for the diagnosis of schistosomiasis and other neglected tropical diseases in the future.
  • Schistosomiasis
  • Echinococcosis
  • Soil-transmitted helminths
  • Intestinal worms
  • Intestinal protozoa


  • Mary Duke
  • Yuesheng Li
  • Hong You
  • Catherine Gordon
  • Pengfei Cai
  • Natasha Collinson
  • Yi Mu
  • Tianfang Wang
  • Madeleine Rogers
  • Poise Aula
  • Emmanuel Tabilin
  • Chika Prisca Zumuk
  • Mimi Niu

Internal Collaborators

  • Professor Darren Gray, QIMR Berghofer
  • Associate Professor Severine Navarro, QIMR Berghofer

External Collaborators

  • Professor Gail Williams, University of Queensland
  • Professor Alex Loukas, James Cook University
  • Professor Denise Doolan, University of Queensland
  • Professor David Blair, James Cook University
  • Professor Wenbao Zhang, Xinjiang Medical University
  • Professor Carlos Graeff Teixeira, Universidade Federal do Espíritu Santo, Brazil
  • Professor Shengyue Wang, China Human Genome Centre
  • Professor Wei Hu, Fudan University
  • Professor Zheng Feng and Prof Xiaonong Zhou, NIPD, Shanghai
  • Dr Mario Jiz, Research Institute of Tropical Medicine, Manila
  • Dr Marianette Inobaya, Research Institute of Tropical Medicine, Manila
  • A/Professor Marcello Otake Sato, Niigata University, Japan
  • Dr Yasuhito Sako, Asahikawa Medical University, Japan
  • Professor Paul Brindley, George Washington University
  • Professor Don Harn, University of Georgia
  • Dr Geoff Gobert, University of Belfast
  • Professor Jurg Utzinger, Swiss Tropical Institute
  • Professor Robert Bergquist , WHO


  • NHMRC Leadership Fellowship (Level 3)
  • NHMRC Program Grant: “Tropical diseases: Translating discoveries into better health”
  • NHMRC Project Grant: “Conquering schistosomiasis in China: the last mile”
  • NHMRC Investigator Grant “A worm-free world: defeating parasitic helminths via global integrated control”
  • NHMRC e-ASIA Joint Research Program (e-ASIA JRP) “Eliminating the Major Helminth Neglected Tropical Diseases from the Lower Mekong Basin”
  • NHMRC Project Grant: “ Developing optimal diagnostic tools for schistosomiasis: the public health implications for control and elimination”
  • ARC Project Grant “Decoding the molecular components of aquatic parasite-host interactions”
  • QIMRB seed grant “Employing CRISPR genome engineering to unravel the mechanism of praziquantel drug resistance in human schistosomes”.
  • UQ-QIMRB seed grant “Enlisting the CRISPR-Cas12/13 based system for improved schistosomiasis diagnosis”
  • UQ-QIMRB seed grant “Parasitic helminth-derived immunomodulators to fight viral sepsis in severe COVID-19”
  • AID/ANU seed grants: “Magic Glasses Covid-19: a hygiene and social distancing health education package to prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection in children”
  • NHMRC e-ASIA Joint Research Program (e-Asia JRP) “Rapid point of care diagnostics for the elimination of Asian Schistosomiasis”

2023 – S. R. MacGregor, D. P. McManus, H. Sivakumaran, T. G. Egwang, M. Adriko, P. Cai, C. A. Gordon, M. G. Duke, J. D. French, N. Collinson, R. M. Olveda, H. Gunter, C. Graeff-Teixeira, M. K. Jones, H. You. Development of CRISPR/Cas13a-based assays for the diagnosis of schistosomiasis, eBioMedicine, 94

2023 – C. Lowe, Z. Ahmadabadi, D. J. Gray, M. Kelly, D. P. McManus, G. Williams. Systematic review of applied mathematical models for the control of Schistosoma japonicum, Acta Trop, 241

2023 – M. L. S. Mationg, G. M. Williams, V. L. Tallo, R. M, Olveda, E. Aung, P. Alday, M. D. Renosa, C. M. Daga, J. Landicho, M. P. Demonteverde, E. D. Santos, T. A. Brao, S. Bourke, S. L. Munira, F. A. Bieri, Y. S. Li, A. C. A. Clements, P. Steinmann, K. Halton, D. E. Stewart, D. P. McManus, D. J. Gray. Cost analysis for ‘The Magic Glasses Philippine” health education package to prevent intestinal worm infections among Filipino schoolchildren, The Lancet Regional Health – Western Pacific, 31

2023 – H. You, M. K. Jones, C. A. Gordon, A. E. Arganda, P. Cai, H. Al-Wassiti, C. W. Pouton, D. P. McManus. The mRNA vaccine technology era and the future control of parasitic infections, Clinical Microbiology Reviews, e00241-21

2023 – Y. Mu, D. P. McManus, C. A. Gordon, H. You, A. G. Ross, R. M. Olveda, P. Cai. Development and assessment of a novel gold immunochromatographic assay for the diagnosis of schistosomiasis japonica, Frontiers in Immunology, 14

2022 – K. A. Alene, C. A. Gordon, A. C. A. Clements, G. M. Williams, D. J. Gray, X. Zhou, Y. Li, J. Utzinger, J. Kurscheid, S. Forsyth, J. Zhou, Z. Li, G. li, D. Lin, Z. Lou, S. Li, J. Ge, J. Xu, X. Yu, F. Hu, S. Xie, D. P. McManus. Spatial analysis of schistosomiasis in Hunan and Jiangxi provinces in the People’s Republic of China, Diseases, 10(4)

2022 – Y. Mu, C. A. Gordon, R. M. Olveda, A. G. Ross, D. U. Olveda, J. M. March, D. P. McManus, P. Cai. Identification of a linear B-cell epitope on the Schistosoma japonicum saposin protein, SjSAP4: Potential as a component of a multi-epitope diagnostic assay, PLoS NTDs, 16(7)


Development of CRISPR based technology in schistosome bloodflukes

This project can be adapted to suit Honours, Masters and PhD level students. Schistosomiasis is a serious global problem and the second most devastating parasitic disease after malaria. Currently, there is no effective vaccine available and treatment is entirely dependent on praziquantel chemotherapy, which raises significant potential threat to public health should drug resistance develop. […]

Find Out More

Epidemiology of schistosomiasis in the Philippines

Project suitable for PhD, can be adapted for Honours and Masters students Asian schistosomiasis is caused by the blood fluke Schistosoma japonicum. Infection with this helminth can cause long-term chronic health problems due to eggs becoming lodged in body tissues, particularly the liver leading to hepatosplenomegaly and liver fibrosis. In children infection is linked with […]

Find Out More