Dr Michelle Boyle completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne, with Prof James Beeson in 2012 with a focus on developing methods to study Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite invasion of red blood cells. These studies included investigating mechanisms and inhibitors of invasion with a focus on progress towards vaccine and drug development. Michelle received a Premiers Award for Health and Medical Research, commendee award for these studies in 2013.
Following her PhD, Michelle was awarded a NHMRC Early Career Development, CJ Martin Award and completed a two-year post-doctoral position at University of California, San Francisco. With a focus on cellular immune responses in naturally exposed populations, her work identified a number of age- and malaria exposure- dependent changes to T cells that contribute to naturally acquired immunity. In 2015, she received the Australian National Associations of Research Fellows – Postdoctoral Investigator Award.
Michelle has now returned to Australia and is an honorary fellow at Menzies School of Health Research as well as a research officer at the Burnet Institute. She is working on collaborative projects between the two institutes to identify mechanisms contributing to the acquisition of immunity against multiple malaria species in the South East Asia region.
She is recently established her lab at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, where she commenced as an EMBL Australia Group Leader in early 2019.
Current QIMR Berghofer appointment
- Nov 2018 – current: Team Head, Human Malaria Immunology Laboratory
- Jun 2017 – current: Honorary Fellow, Burnet Institute & Menzies School for Health Research, Australia
- Jun 2015 – Dec 2016: Research Officer, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Australia
- Jun 2015 – Dec 2016: Honorary Fellow, Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, Australia
- Jun 2013 – May 2015: Postdoctoral Scholar, University of California San Francisco, USA
- Mar – Oct 2012: Research Officer, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Australia
- Jul – Dec 2008: Research Assistant, University of Malaysia, Sarawak, Malaysia
- Jan – Jun 2008: Research Assistant, Walter & Eliza Hall Institute, Australia
- Jan – Dec 2006: Undergraduate Research Program, Walter & Eliza Hall Institute, Australia
- D-4223-2018 (h-index 16)
Current Area of Research
The Human Malaria Immunology Group’s goal is to inform the development of effective malaria vaccines by defining functional mechanisms of antibodies that target the parasite, and the development of protective antibodies in humans.
Currently, the most advanced malaria vaccine has only 36 per cent efficacy, with efficacy further reduced in infants and in populations with high prior malaria exposure. Our research is focused predominately in humans. We leverage human samples from controlled human malaria infection models and human clinical cohorts of malaria infection, and apply these clinical samples to in vitro systems.
We have shown that a large proportion of antibodies that target the blood stage of malaria infection require complement fixation to prevent RBC infection (Boyle et al, Immunity, 2015).
Antibody development requires the correct activation of CD4 T cells during infection. Using a large clinical cohort of children and adults from Uganda, we have shown that the development of malaria-specific CD4 T cells is independently affected by age and prior malaria exposure.
We are currently focused on defining the role of T-follicular helper cell in the induction of functional antibodies against malaria.
We aim to inform the development of next-generation malaria vaccines by:
- identifying and characterising key functional mechanisms of antibodies that mediate protection,
- defining the key cellular mechanisms that promote the generation of functional antibodies, and
- quantifying the impact of host age and prior malaria exposure on antibody development.
- 2009 – current: Australian Society for Parasitology, Northern Territory Representative 2017/2018
- 2009 – 2012: Australian Society for Medical Research
- 2010 – 2015: American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
- 2017: Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Exceptional Performance in Research, Menzies Malaria team member, Charles Darwin University
- 2016: AMREP Biomedical Research Early-Career Researcher Best Paper Award ($500 AUD)
- 2016: AIPS Young Tall Poppy Science Award, NT ($1000 AUD)
- 2016: AMREP Research Prize for Basic Research ($1000 AUD)
- 2016: Molecular Approaches to Malaria, International conference, Lorne, Best poster presentation prize
- 2016: IFReC Winter School participant (competitive international early career research training)
- 2015: National Association of Research Fellows Postdoctoral Investigator Award ($1 500 AUD)
- 2013: Premiers Award for Health and Medical Research – Commended Award ($8 000 AUD)
- 2012: BioMalPar conference, Heidelberg, Germany, Student presentation prize
- 2011: Malaria in Melbourne Conference, Student presentation prize
- 2011: Harold Mitchell Foundation Postgraduate Travel Award ($3 000 AUD)
- 2011: Miller Foundation Biomedical Research Travel Award ($1 500 AUD)
- 2010: Young Investigator Award, American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Atlanta USA (largest international conference in my field)
- 2010: Victoria Infection and Immunity Student Symposium Poster Presentation prize
- 2009: Malaria in Melbourne Conference, Student presentation prize
- Victoria Infection and Immunity, Student presentation prize
- Jul 2012: PhD, The University of Melbourne, Australia
- 2007: Bachelor of Arts/ Bachelor of Science, Honours; The University of Melbourne, Australia