Our People

Don McManus

Professor | NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow | Senior Scientist

Molecular Parasitology

+61 7 3362 0401

don.mcmanus@qimrberghofer.edu.au

 

CAREER HISTORY

Professor Don McManus has devoted his life’s work to the prevention and treatment of neglected tropical diseases with his research focusing on diseases caused by parasitic worms. He has published more than 600 articles in his nearly 50 year career with a number of these studies helping shape policy and practice leading to improved treatment and disease control in China and other parts of Asia and Africa. In 2020, Professor McManus was awarded an Honorary Membership of the British Society of Parasitology in recognition of his impact in the field of Parasitology. In 2018, he won the prestigious Sornchai Looareesuwan Medal for his outstanding achievements and excellence in experimental and clinical tropical medicine research and his distinguished sustained contributions to the field of eliminating parasitic helminth diseases.

 

CURRENT APPOINTMENTS

2011-current: NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, QIMR Berghofer

2001-current: Head of Molecular Parasitology Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer

2011-current: Senior Principal Research Fellow and Senior Scientist, QIMR Berghofer

 

OTHER CURRENT APPOINTMENTS

  • Professor of Tropical Health, University of Queensland
  • Professor, Australian National University

 

PREVIOUS APPOINTMENTS

1993-2001: Head of Molecular Parasitology Unit, QIMR Berghofer

1992-1993: Head of Unit of Parasitic and Infectious Diseases, QIMR Berghofer

1991-1992: Head of Division of Tropical Health and Infectious Diseases, QIMR Berghofer

1989-2002: Director, Tropical Health Program, QIMR Berghofer

1978-1988: Lecturer, Department of Zoology/Biology, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of London

 

ORCID NUMBER

0000-0001-6443-1449

 

RESEARCHER ID

G-2678-2013

 

CURRENT AREA OF RESEARCH

Don leads a team of specialist researchers with diverse skills to target the control and elimination of human helminth worm infections. His research marries the basic and applied – translating research outcomes into innovative/practical control strategies. His passionate commitment is to field and laboratory research with his multidisciplinary team; bringing together expertise in molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics, immunology, vaccinology, modelling techniques, field epidemiology, biostatistics, the design of cluster randomised-control intervention trials and monitoring parasite control programs. As evidence of his productivity and innovation, he has sustained prolonged funding sources including NHMRC (SPRFs/program/project grants) and international agencies (Wellcome Trust, NIH, Dana/ UBS Optimus Foundations).

Central to his research ethos is an ability to synergise an expansive network of national and international resources critical to the quality and substance of the work. Embedded into his research methodology are collaborations and mutual research training partnerships, which focus on national/international scholars and technology transfer. His research has had a positive impact on national/global health policy and practice for collaborations between Australia, Asia and more recently Africa, where new programs are in train with institutes in the Mekong Delta and Madagascar.

Against a global background of economic and environmental change, it is vital to develop and deliver an appropriate strategic vision to address the critical research needed to reduce the impact of parasitic worms. Drug treatment alone is ineffective and the research community needs to employ its arsenal of diagnostic tools and public health measures with effective monitoring and surveillance to eliminate schistosomiasis and other NTDs from Asia and Africa: to consign these persistent diseases to history. This is Don’s scientific goal that will be a legacy for health and medical research in this country, regionally and globally.

 

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS

  • devised and led a seminal study describing the first use of PCR/direct DNA sequencing to identify genetic variants in Echinococcus tapeworms and for constructing the first molecular phylogenies for any parasitic helminth
  • as the taxonomy of Echinococcus had been controversial, suggested in a pivotal publication, incorporating molecular and epidemiological data acquired at QIMR Berghofer, revision of the Echinococcus genus to six recognized species, a feature now accepted universally by the scientific community
  • published a commissioned review (cited over 1000 times) in the Lancet, work highlighting the biology and transmission of Echinococcus spp., and the epidemiology/clinical features/treatment/diagnosis/control and prevention of the diseases they cause
  • co-led a ground-breaking report in Nature Genetics on the complete Echinococcus granulosus genomic sequence which shed insight on the parasite’s biology and facilitating development of novel echinococcosis interventions for treatment and control
  • senior author of a landmark New England Journal of Medicine paper on schistosomiasis with its considerable depth of coverage and widespread interest for clinicians/non-clinicians working in the areas of schistosomiasis and parasitology in general
  • published, as senior author, two sister works in Clinical Microbiology Reviews, depicting the pathobiology/epidemiology/clinical features/diagnosis/prospects for schistosomiasis control in China, the second following completion of the Three Gorges Dam across the Yangtze River
  • lead author of the most comprehensive report, published in Clinical Microbiology Reviews, of schistosomiasis vaccines, anti-schistosome protective immunity, novel approaches to improve vaccine efficacy, and identification of new schistosome targets for immune attack
  • cover article in Nature of a study marking culmination of schistosome genomics work Don McManus had personally started in the early 1990s; it reporting on the assembly and annotation of the S. japonicum genome, the largest parasite genome sequenced, opening the door for the development of new drugs and vaccines against the Asiatic schistosome
  • published, as senior author in New England Journal of Medicine, results of a RCT intervention showing a revolutionary 50% efficacy of a health education package developed to prevent worm infections in Chinese schoolchildren, with global implications. Similar RCTs followed in China, Vietnam and Philippines with major successful outcomes that have informed policy for the control of intestinal worms
  • lead author in Nature Reviews Disease Primers of a recently solicited work (2018) providing a global and authoritative overview of research on schistosomiasis, as well as the challenges facing the research community as it strives towards elimination of this debilitating condition. It received ‘Highly cited paper’ designation by Web of Science and the publication resulted in an invitation to write a New England Journal of Medicine editorial (2019) on schistosomiasis control

 

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS

  • Member, British Society for Parasitology
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Member
  • American Society of Parasitology Member, British Society of Immunology Member
  • Member British Society for Parasitology
  • Association de Parasitologos Espanoles (Spain) Member
  • Member Australian Society of Parasitology
  • Fellow of the International Association of Hydatidology (Asocicion Internacional de Hidatidologia) Member
  • Member Public Health Association of Australia Member
  • American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Elected member
  • World Federation of Parasitologists First Vice President
  • World Federation of Parasitologists Member
  • Fellow of the Society of Biology (FSB), UK

 

AWARDS RECOGNITION

2020

  • awarded Honorary Membership of the British Society of Parasitology in 2020 in recognition of impact in the field of Parasitology
  • elected member (2021-2024) of the ASTMH/Burroughs Wellcome Fund Fellowship Committee

2019

  • invited member of the 20th International Congress for Tropical Medicine and Malaria (ICTMM2020) International Scientific Advisory Board
  • invited member of the Scientific Organising Committee, XXVIII World Congress on Echinococcosis, Lima, Peru, 29-31 October, 2019
  • invited member Technical working group on protocols of surveys to verify interruption of transmission of schistosomiasis, 23-24 September 2019, WHO HQ, Geneva, Switzerland.
  • based on publication record and citations over the past 10 years ranked by Expertscape as the top-rated expert on Helminth worms in the world

2018

  • awarded the Sornchai Looareesuwan Medal 2018 for ‘outstanding achievements in experimental and clinical topical medicine research, particularly in respect of the excellence of your research and your distinguished sustained contributions to the field of eliminating parasitic helminth diseases’

2016

  • appointed to World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Advisory Panel on Parasitic Diseases – Schistosomiasis
  • QIMR Berghofer nominee for 2016 Research Australia Awards – Peter Wills Award
  • invited speaker at the 2016 Keystone Symposia on ‘New approaches to Vaccines for Human and Veterinary Tropical Diseases’, Cape Town, South Africa

2015

  • elected to Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences
  • invitation to act as lead author for a Nature Reviews Disease Primer on Schistosomiasis
  • invited committee member to evaluate the twelfth five-year Strategic Development Plan for the National Institute of Parasitic Diseases, China CDC, Shanghai
  • QIMR Berghofer nominee for NHMRC Outstanding Contribution Award
  • member NHMRC Career Development Fellowships Peer Review Panel
  • member of the Peer review panel of the Infection Genomics Programme for the quinquennial review of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
  • QIMR Berghofer nominee for Research Australia Awards – Peter Wills Award
  • QIMR Berghofer nominee for NHMRC Outstanding Contribution Award

2014

  • Ralph Doherty QIMR Berghofer Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Medical Research
  • member NHMRC 2014 Career Development Fellowships Peer Review Panel
  • QIMR Berghofer nominee for The Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research
  • selected Finalist for The Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research
  • invitation to co-edit the Research Topic: The Schistosomiasis Vaccine- It Is Time to Stand Up, for Frontiers in Immunology, section Immunotherapies and Vaccines

2013-17

  • appointed to World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Advisory Panel on Parasitic Diseases – Schistosomiasis

2013

  • member, International Scientific Advisory Committee for XIII International Congress of Parasitology (ICOPA XIII) held at Centro Banamex, Mexico City, 10-15 August, 2014
  • elected as a Fellow of the Society of Biology (FSB), UK

2012

  • member, Scientific Committee of The First Forum on Surveillance Response System Leading to Tropical Disease Elimination, Shanghai, China, 16-18 June, 2012
  • conferred with honorary membership of the American Society of Parasitologists in recognition of many significant contributions to parasitology during a distinguished career
  • promoted to Senior Scientist, QIMR Berghofer
  • membership of NHMRC Research Translation Faculty

2011

  • member Scientific Advisory Committee, Australian Centre for Vaccine Development

2010

  • conferred as Honorary International Fellow of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, at the ASTMH 59th Annual Meeting Nov 3-7 Atlanta, Georgia, USA, in recognition of outstanding accomplishment by an ‘individual not an American citizen who has made eminent contributions to some phase of tropical medicine and hygiene’
  • awarded Senior Principal Research Fellowship by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (2011-2015)
  • member Expert Scientific Committee of the 24th International Congress of Hydatidology, Urumqi, Xinjiang, China, 14-18 September 2011

2009

  • continuing Member of WHO Expert Advisory Panel on Parasitic Diseases
  • member of the Scientific Committee of the Joint International Tropical Medicine Meeting, 2-4 December 2009, Bangkok, Thailand
  • member of the Disease Reference Group on Zoonoses and Marginalized Infectious Diseases of Poverty, UNICEF/UNDP/World bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR)
  • member of PhD Thesis Evaluation Group, Department of Parasitology, University of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan
  • elected as Board Member, Regional Network for Asian Schistosomiasis and Other Helminth Zoonoses (RNAS+)
  • awarded Certificate of Merit of the International Association of Hydatidology
  • core member of the Schistosoma japonicum Genome Sequencing and Functional Analysis Consortium which published the complete genomic sequence of S. japonicum in a land mark paper in Nature, 460: 345-352

2007

  • Chief Investigator on successful NHMRC Program Grant

2005

  • Professor, Griffith University
  • External assessor, Universiti Malaya

2004

  • member International Scientific Committee, XX1st International Congress of Hydatidology, Nairobi, Kenya, 16-21 August 2004.
  • receipt of a five-year Programme Grant under the NHMRC/Wellcome Trust (UK) International Collaborative Research Grant Scheme
  • receipt of grant from Sandler Center for Basic Research in Parasitic Diseases (US) to design, construct and utilize a S. japonicum microarray
  • major review article published in the Lancet on Echinococcosis
  • collaborative paper published in Nature Genetics on the transcriptome of S. japonicum
  • landmark paper describing a novel diagnostic test for echinococcosis – published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases
  • full application solicited from the Foundation for the NIH for developing an anti-schistosome transmission blocking vaccine under the Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative

2003

  • elected Local Secretary (for Queensland), Royal Society Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
  • successful applicant for a Wellcome Trust/NHMRC International Collaborative Research grant – $AUD 2.5 million
  • appointed Visiting Professor and Senior Research Advisor to Ningxia Medical College, Yueyang, Ningxia, PR China

2002

  • co-Editor and contributor on “Echinococcus” for Special Issue of Parasitology
  • elected to Membership of the Asia-Pacific International Molecular Biology Network

2001

  • invited Guest Editor on ‘Schistosomiasis in the 21st Century’ for Acta Tropica

2000

  • appointed Guest Professor of Xinjiang Medical University, Urumqi, Xinjiang, PR China
  • appointed Special Expert to the Echinococcus Research Centre, Xinjiang Hospital, Urumqi, Xinjiang, PR China
  • appointed member of WHO Steering Committee on Schistosomiasis

1998

  • elected Vice-President of the World Federation of Parasitologists

1996

  • awarded Doctorate of Science, University of Wales

1994

  • invited to join the committee assessing applications for the TDR/WHO Schistosome Genome Network
  • Honorary Visiting Fellow, Zoology Department, James Cook University
  • promoted to Senior Principal Research Fellow and full Professor
  • elected to the Board of the World Federation of Parasitologists

1992

  • invited Guest Editor on ‘Molecular variation in parasites’ for Acta Tropica

1991

  • made an honorary member of the World Association of Hydatidology
  • Honorary Research Advisor, Department of Parasitology, University of Queensland

1990

  • appointed Scientific Research Adviser to Xinjiang Medical College, China

1989

  • appointed Scientific Adviser to the National Hydatid Disease Centre of China
  • invited to join the WHO Working Group on Echinococcus

1987

  • acted as EEC coordinator for hydatid disease research and epidemiology in the UK and my laboratory was officially recognised as an EEC DNA Reference Centre

1986

  • keynote speaker at the World Congress of Parasitology, Brisbane 1986, ‘Biochemistry of Helminths’

1985

  • awarded the prize for the best communication presented at the XII World Hydatid Congress, Madrid, Spain for the paper entitled ‘The molecular biology of Echinococcus: a new approach to hydatid disease and parasite development’

1982

  • visiting Professor Yarmouk University, Jordan

1979

  • visiting Professor to Ahwaz University, Iran

 

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND

  • BSc (Hons) University of Wales
  • PhD University of Wales
  • DSc University of Wales