Our People

Michelle Boyle

Dr | Team Head | EMBL Australia Group Leader

Human Malaria Immunology

michelle.boyle@qimrberghofer.edu.au

 

CAREER HISTORY

Dr Boyle completed her PhD in 2012 at the Burnet Institute and Melbourne University with a focus on developing methods to study Plasmodium falciparum malaria invasion of red blood cells and progressing towards vaccine and drug development.

Following her PhD, Dr Boyle was awarded an NHMRC Early Career (CJ Martin) Fellowship and completed a two-year post-doctoral position at the University of California, San Francisco. Her work identified a number of age and malaria exposure-dependent changes to T cells that contribute to naturally acquired immunity and she received the Australian National Association of Research Fellows Postdoctoral Investigator Award in 2015.

On returning to Australia, Dr Boyle worked on collaborative projects between the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, where she is an Honorary Fellow, and the Burnet Institute. Her research focused on identify mechanisms contributing to the acquisition of immunity against multiple malaria species in the South East Asia region. During this period she was awarded a NHMRC Project Grant as a New Investigator, and a Career Development Fellowship to study T-follicular helper cells in malaria.

In 2018, she established her lab at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland as an EMBL Australia Group Leader. In 2020 she was awarded an Ideas Grant to continue her studies on T-follicular helper cells in malaria infection.

 

CURRENT APPOINTMENTS

  • Team Head, EMBL Australia Group Leader, QIMR-Berghofer
  • Honorary Fellow, Burnet Institute
  • Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Griffith University
  • Honorary Associate Professor, University of Queensland, School of Biomedical Sciences
  • Visiting Fellow, Queensland University of Technology, School of Biomedical Sciences

 

PREVIOUS APPOINTMENTS

  • Senior Research Fellow, Burnet Institute
  • Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Menzies School of Health Research
  • Post-doctoral Research Fellow, University of California, San Francisco

 

ORCID NUMBER

0000-0002-0268-232X

 

RESEARCHER ID

P-7297-2019

 

CURRENT AREA OF RESEARCH

Dr Boyle’s research is focused on identifying cellular mechanisms that drive the induction of protective humoral responses to human infection. The group primarily focuses on Plasmodium parasite infection, the causative parasite of malaria using human cohort of experimental and natural infection to understand immune development.

Some of the key research challenges:

  • identifying and characterising key functional mechanisms of antibodies that mediate protection
  • defining the key cellular mechanisms that promote the generation of functional antibodies
  • quantifying the impact of host age and prior malaria exposure on antibody development

 

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS  

  • investigate the specific antigen targets of protective complement fixing antibodies
  • quantify the role of IgM, along-side IgG in mediating complement fixing protective immunity
  • identify the role of complement fixing antibodies in P. vivax malaria
  • show complement fixing antibodies can be induced by vaccination in humans and have important roles in efficacy to the most advanced malaria vaccine RTS,S
  • demonstrate that protective complement fixing antibodies are not associated with complement activation linked to pathogenesis
  • Identify how age and exposure impact the development of CD4 T cell responses to malaria

 

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS

  • Australasian Society for Immunology
  • Australian Society for Parasitology

 

AWARDS RECOGNITION

2017

  • Charles Darwin University, Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Exceptional Performance in Research, Menzies Malaria team member

2016

  • AMREP Biomedical Research Early-Career Researcher Best Paper Award
  • AIPS Young Tall Poppy Science Award, NT
  • AMREP Research Prize for Basic Research
  • Molecular Approaches to Malaria, International conference, Best poster presentation prize
  • IFReC Winter School participant

2015

  • National Association of Research Fellows Postdoctoral Investigator Award

2013

  • Premiers Award for Health and Medical Research – Commended Award

 

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND

2009-2012: PhD (Awarded 10 July 2012) Burnet Institute, Walter & Eliza Hall Institute, University of Melbourne. Supervisor: Dr James Beeson, Division of Infection and Immunity

2002-2007: Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science, Honours, University of Melbourne. Majors:  Microbiology, Indonesian Language/Asian Studies