Maria Luisa Simoes

Maria Luisa Simoes

Associate Professor

  • Nationalestraat

    2000 Antwerpen

    Belgium

20072023

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research expertise

Bio

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, MD, USA, being promoted to Faculty Research Associate. After productive years at Hopkins, she became Assistant Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK. She is now (since 2023) Associate Professor at the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp, in Belgium, leading the Experimental Immunology Unit. She is the recipient of the 2022 Breakthrough in Medical Entomology Award (ACME) and the 2019 American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) Young Investigator Award. She was elected to the executive council of the American Committee of Medical Entomology (ACME, 2023) and is a member of the ASTMH scientific program committee.

Research focus

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. Recent advances in Anopheles functional genomics and transgenesis resulted in the development of genetic transmission-blocking strategies against this devastating disease, namely the engineering of genetically modified mosquitoes with decreased vectorial capacity. Mosquitoes lack adaptive immune responses but possess an effective innate immune system that controls infections with several pathogens, including malaria parasites. Our previous research resulted in the discovery of important innate immunity factors and mechanisms that were used for the engineering of transgenic Anopheles lines with impaired malaria parasite transmission ‪(Maria L. Simões - ‪Google Scholar). Research in the Simões Laboratory centers on understanding how biotic and abiotic stressors, such as pathogens and environmental factors, shape the Anopheles immune responses, with consequences for malaria transmission. Our Lab aims at identifying new gene/protein transmission-blocking targets for the development of novel malaria control genetic technologies.

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

PhD and Post-doctoral individual fellowships

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

If you think you are eligible, please contact the PI, Maria Luísa Simões (mlsimoes@itg.be) to discuss a prospective application.

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