Maria Luisa Simoes
  • Nationalestraat

    2000 Antwerpen



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Personal profile

Research expertise

Maria Luísa Simões (she/her) did her PhD thesis research at Nova University of Lisbon, Portugal, and Imperial College London, UK (2014). She then pursued a postdoc at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MA, USA, being promoted to Faculty Research Associate. After productive years at Hopkins, she became an Assistant Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK. She is now an Associate Professor at the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp, in Belgium, leading the Experimental Immunology Unit. She is the recipient of the American Committee of Medical Entomology 2022 Breakthrough in Medical Entomology Award and the 2019 American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Young Investigator Award. She is a member of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene scientific program committee.


Malaria, caused by Plasmodium parasites that are vectored to humans by the bite of Anopheles female mosquitoes, remains a life-threatening disease causing millions of cases and thousands of deaths worldwide, every year. The past and the unprecedented ongoing control efforts to halt malaria are proving insufficient and novel control methods are needed. Advances in Anopheles functional genomics and transgenesis have rendered the mosquito into a powerful model for studying host-pathogen interactions and opened the path towards developing genetic transmission-blocking strategies against this devastating disease. My work centers on malaria transmission and Anopheles-Plasmodium interactions. Mosquitoes lack adaptive immune responses but possess an effective innate immune system that controls infections with several pathogens, including malaria parasites. Most studies on mosquito innate immunity responses to malaria parasite infection rely on rodent models. However, my studies have shown that many Anopheles immune factors and mechanisms involved in eliminating the clinically relevant human Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest malaria parasite, differ from those against murine parasites. My work highlights how the mosquito immune response kinetics is parasite-specific and dependent on intensity and temperature of infection. In brief, my research focuses on dissecting the mosquito innate immunity responses, particularly melanization, in a vector-parasite specific manner; identifying new transmission-blocking targets for the development of novel malaria vector control genetic technologies; and highlighting the need to study mosquito defence mechanisms that are relevant against human malaria.

‪Publications here: Maria L. Simões - ‪Google Scholar


Maria Luisa's work has been highlighted in Nature: How genetically modified mosquitoes could eradicate malaria (June 2023)


Post-doctoral individual fellowships

Motivated individuals with strong molecular and/or vector biology backgrounds, preferably with experience with Plasmodium culturing and/or mouse models of malaria, please check the current external funding sources:

If you think you are eligible, you are welcome to contact the PI, Maria Luísa Simões ( to discuss a prospective application. In your email, please include, all combined in one PDF file:

  • a letter of professional and academic goals
  • a CV
  • a brief description of your eligibility for the specific fellowship
  • contact information for two references


Please note that these are individual fellowships in which you are the applicant, supported by a PI at a host institution. A postdoctoral position in the Experimental Immunology lab is dependent on your fellowship being granted.

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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