What We Study

Our lab uses systems-based approaches to investigate the host response to P. falciparum infection and malaria vaccines as it relates to host tolerance and malaria protection. The major questions driving our research are:
1. How do malaria-exposed individuals learn to tolerate Plasmodium infections, sometimes at parasite densities in the hundreds of thousands of parasites per microliter?
2. Which immune responses induced by either naturally acquired malaria or candidate malaria vaccines are associated with protection from malaria infection and disease?

Explore the data

Below are data from both our published and unpublished work.

Interactive webapps in development



Jyoti Bhardwaj

Assistant Scientist

I am an assistant scientist studying naturally acquired immunity to malaria. I obtained my PhD from CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute, India. Outside the lab, I enjoy talking to my family, travelling, listening to music, watching Netflix and keeping up-to-date on science.


Oscar De Los Santos

Undergraduate Student

I’m a fourth-year undergrad majoring in biology and neuroscience. My research interests include infectious diseases, specifically malaria, and neural diseases & disorders. Outside the lab I enjoy working out, swimming, and catching the latest Marvel movie.


Erik Gaskin

Research Technician

I hold a master’s in Plant Genetics and have been in molecular biology since 2013. I came here for the challenge and the cause. My off time is usually spent chasing my toddler and maintaining my house. And in my free time… I have a toddler; I don’t have free time.


Prasida Holla

Assistant Research Professor

I became interested in malaria as a model of chronic infection and B cell activation during my postdoc in Sue Pierce’s lab at the NIH. My current research in the Tran lab aims at understanding how innate immune cell types drive immunity to malaria.


Leetah Senkpeil

Graduate Student

I’m a second-year PhD Student with an interest in Microbiology and Immunology. My specific research interests include Bioinformatics and Immunology. Outside of the lab, I enjoy spending time with my husband and cat. I enjoy cooking, board games, and fitness.


Aditi Upadhye

Research Data Assistant

I am a graduate student in the IU School of Informatics and Science who is interested in data science and analytics. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree from D Y Patil College of Engineering and Technology, India. Outside the lab, I like to cook, travel, and watch movies.


Tuan M. Tran

Principal Investigator

I became interested in malaria after hearing a compelling talk by the late Bob Desowitz during my first year of medical school. I found the disease to be fascinating due to complexity of the malaria parasite’s life cycle and the host response against this potentially deadly infection.

Past Lab Members

Michael Macklin

Past position: Lab Manager

Christina Salgado

Current position: Medical Student

Morgan Schafer

Current position: First-year MSTP student, Emory University School of Medicine

Sri Nallandhighal

Current position: Computational Biologist, Department of Urology, University of Michigan

Sushmita Rane

Past Position : Graduate Student

Tenzin Tashi

Past Position : Graduate Student

Recent Publications

Our group has contributed to the following research papers:

Accumulation of neutrophil-phagocytic antibody features tracks with naturally acquired immunity against malaria in children.

Nziza N, Tran TM, DeRiso EA, Dolatshahi S, Herman JD, Lacerda LD, Junqueira C, Lieberman J, Ongoiba A, Doumbo S, Kayentao K, Traore B, Crompton PD, Alter G. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, jiad115. 2023 April 26; doi:10.1093/infdis/jiad115/7143027.

Neither the African-centric S47 nor P72 variant of TP53 is associated with reduced risk of febrile malaria in a Malian cohort study.

Bhardwaj J, Upadhye A, Gaskin EL, Doumbo S, Kayentao K, Ongoiba A, Traore B, Crompton PD, Tran TM. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, jiad066. 2023 March 24; doi:10.1093/infdis/jiad066.

Haemophilus ducreyi Infection Induces Oxidative Stress, Central Metabolic Changes, and a Mixed Pro- and Anti-inflammatory Environment in the Human Host.

Brothwell JA, Fortney KR, Gao H, Wilson LS, Andrews CF, Tran TM, Hu X, Batteiger TA, Barnes S, Liu Y, Spinola SM. mBio.2022 Dec 1;e0312522. doi: 10.1128/mbio.03125-22.[Online ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 36453940

Longitudinal IgG antibody responses to Plasmodium vivax blood-stage antigens during and after acute vivax malaria in individuals living in the Brazilian Amazon.

Tashi T, Upadhye A, Kundu P, Wu C, Menant S, Soares RR, Ferreira MU, Longley RJ, Mueller I, Hoang QQ, Tham WH, Rayner JC, Scopel KK, Lima-Junior JC, Tran TM .PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2022 Nov 23; 16(11):e0010773. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0010773 [Online ahead of print].

Evaluation of an ultrasensitive HRP2–based rapid diagnostic test for detection of asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia among children in western Kenya.

Turnbull LB, Ayodo G, Knight V, John CC, McHenry MS, Tran TM. Malaria Journal volume 21, Article number:337 (2022). 2022 November 16; doi: 10.1186/s12936-022-04351-y.

Plasma amino acid concentrations in children with severe malaria are associated with mortality and worse long-term kidney and cognitive outcomes.

Conroy AL,Tran TM, Bond C, Opoka RO, Datta D, Liechty EA, Bangirana P, Namazzi R, Idro R, Cusick S, Ssenkusu JM, John CC. J Infect Dis. 2022 September 30; doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiac392.

The prevalence and density of asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum infections among children and adults in three communities of western Kenya.

Salgado C, Ayodo G, Macklin MD, Gould MP, Nallandhighal S, Odhiambo EO, Obala A, Prudhomme WO, John CC, Tran TM. Malaria Journal volume 20, Article number:371 (2021). 2021 September 17; doi: 10.1186/s12936-021-03905-w.

Translation and Cultural Adaptation of NIH Toolbox Cognitive Tests into Swahili and Dholuo Languages for Use in Children in Western Kenya.

Duffey MM, Ayuku D, Ayodo G, Abuonji E, Nyalumbe M, Giella AK, Hook JN, Tran TM, McHenry MS. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2021 May 24;1-10. doi: 10.1017/S1355617721000497.

Experience counts in the malaria response.

Holla P, Tran TM. Nat Immunol. 2021 Apr 22;. doi: 10.1038/s41590-021-00917-1. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 33888897

Increased circulation time of Plasmodium falciparum underlies persistent asymptomatic infection in the dry season.

Andrade CM, Fleckenstein H, Thomson-Luque R, Doumbo S, Lima NF, Anderson C, Hibbert J, Hopp CS, Tran TM, Li S, Niangaly M, Cisse H, Doumtabe D, Skinner J, Sturdevant D, Ricklefs S, Virtaneva K, Asghar M, Homann MV, Turner L, Martins J, Allman EL, N’Dri ME, Winkler V, Llinás M, Lavazec C, Martens C, Färnert A, Kayentao K, Ongoiba A, Lavstsen T, Osório NS, Otto TD, Recker M, Traore B, Crompton PD, Portugal S. Nat Med. 2020 Oct 26. doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-1084-0.

Longitudinal analysis of naturally acquired PfEMP1 CIDR domain variant antibodies identifies associations with malaria protection.

Obeng-Adjei N, Larremore DB, Turner L, Ongoiba A, Li S, Doumbo S, Yazew TB, Kayentao K, Miller LH, Traore B, Pierce SK, Buckee CO, Lavstsen T, Crompton PD, Tran TM. JCI Insight. 2020 May 19:137262.

Decoding the complexities of human malaria through systems immunology.

Tran TM, Crompton PD. Immunol Rev. 2019 Nov 3. doi: 10.1111/imr.12817.

A Molecular Signature in Blood Reveals a Role for p53 in Regulating Malaria-Induced Inflammation.

Tran TM, Guha R, Portugal S, Skinner J, Ongoiba A, Bhardwaj J, Jones M, Moebius J, Venepally P, Doumbo S, DeRiso EA, Li S, Vijayan K, Anzick SL, Hart GT, O’Connell EM, Doumbo OK, Kaushansky A, Alter G, Felgner PL, Lorenzi H, Kayentao K, Traore B, Kirkness EF, Crompton PD. Immunity. 2019 Aug 23;. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2019.08.009.

Determination of an Interaction Network between an Extracellular Bacterial Pathogen and the Human Host.

Griesenauer B, Tran TM, Fortney KR, Janowicz DM, Johnson P, Gao H, Barnes S, Wilson LS, Liu Y, Spinola SM. MBio. 2019 Jun 18;10(3). pii: e01193-19.

Whole-blood transcriptomic signatures induced during immunization by chloroquine prophylaxis and Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites.

Tran TM, Bijker EM, Haks MC, Ottenhoff TMH, Visser L, Schats R, Venepally P, Lorenzi H, Crompton PD, Sauerwein RW. Scientific Reports. 2019; 9:8386.

Adaptive NK cells in people exposed to Plasmodium falciparum correlate with protection from malaria.

Hart GT, Tran TM, Theorell J, Schlums H, Arora G, Rajagopalan S, Sangala J, Welsh KJ, Traore B, Pierce SK, Crompton PD, Bryceson YT, Long EO. The Journal of Experimental Medicine. 2019; epub: April 12, 2019.

Whole-Blood Transcriptional Signatures Composed of Erythropoietic and NRF2-Regulated Genes Differ Between Cerebral Malaria and Severe Malarial Anemia.

Nallandhighal S, Park GS, Ho YY, Opoka RO, John CC, Tran TM. The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2019; 219(1):154-164.

Coxiella burnetii Blocks Intracellular Interleukin-17 Signaling in Macrophages.

Clemente TM, Mulye M, Justis AV, Nallandhighal S, Tran TM, Gilk SD. Infection and Immunity. 2018; 86(10).

Extent and Dynamics of Polymorphism in the Malaria Vaccine Candidate Plasmodium falciparum Reticulocyte-Binding Protein Homologue-5 in Kalifabougou, Mali.

Ouattara A, Tran TM, Doumbo S, Matthew A, Agrawal S, Niangaly A, Nelson-Owens S, Doumtabé D, Tolo Y, Ongoiba A, Takala-Harrison S, Traoré B, Silva JC, Crompton PD, Doumbo OK, Plowe CV. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 2018; 99(1):43-50.

Protein-Specific Features Associated with Variability in Human Antibody Responses to Plasmodium falciparum Malaria Antigens.

Liu EW, Skinner J, Tran TM, Kumar K, Narum DL, Jain A, Ongoiba A, Traoré B, Felgner PL, Crompton PD. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 2018; 98(1):57-66.

Synergistic malaria vaccine combinations identified by systematic antigen screening.

Bustamante LY, Powell GT, Lin YC, Macklin MD, Cross N, Kemp A, Cawkill P, Sanderson T, Crosnier C, Muller-Sienerth N, Doumbo OK, Traore B, Crompton PD, Cicuta P, Tran TM, Wright GJ, Rayner JC. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2017; 114(45):12045-12050.

Public antibodies to malaria antigens generated by two LAIR1 insertion modalities.

Pieper K, Tan J, Piccoli L, Foglierini M, Barbieri S, Chen Y, Silacci-Fregni C, Wolf T, Jarrossay D, Anderle M, Abdi A, Ndungu FM, Doumbo OK, Traore B, Tran TM, Jongo S, Zenklusen I, Crompton PD, Daubenberger C, Bull PC, Sallusto F, Lanzavecchia A. Nature. 2017; 548(7669):597-601.

Treatment of Chronic Asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum Infection Does Not Increase the Risk of Clinical Malaria Upon Reinfection.

Portugal S, Tran TM, Ongoiba A, Bathily A, Li S, Doumbo S, Skinner J, Doumtabe D, Kone Y, Sangala J, Jain A, Davies DH, Hung C, Liang L, Ricklefs S, Homann MV, Felgner PL, Porcella SF, Färnert A, Doumbo OK, Kayentao K, Greenwood BM, Traore B, Crompton PD. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2017; 64(5):645-653.

Transcriptomic evidence for modulation of host inflammatory responses during febrile Plasmodium falciparum malaria.

Tran TM, Jones MB, Ongoiba A, Bijker EM, Schats R, Venepally P, Skinner J, Doumbo S, Quinten E, Visser LG, Whalen E, Presnell S, O’Connell EM, Kayentao K, Doumbo OK, Chaussabel D, Lorenzi H, Nutman TB, Ottenhoff TH, Haks MC, Traore B, Kirkness EF, Sauerwein RW, Crompton PD. Scientific Reports. 2016; 6:31291.


Our lab collaborates with malaria research groups at Indiana University and elsewhere around the globe.

Alexis Kaushansky Lab at Center for Global Infectious Disease Research

The Kaushansky Lab focuses on Cross-Pathogen Studies and Co-Infections.

Chandy John Lab at Indiana University School of Medicine

The John Lab has several malaria studies in Uganda and western Kenya.

Daniel Neafsey at Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health

The Neafsey lab studies the evolutionary genomics of malaria parasites and mosquito vectors.

Nathan W. Schmidt Lab at Indiana University School of Medicine

The Schmidt Lab is interested in defining the factors that impact the pathogenesis of malaria.

Peter Crompton Lab at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Crompton Lab investigates the mechanisms underlying naturally acquired immunity to Plasmodium falciparum malaria.

Robert Seder Lab at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

The Seder Lab conducts malaria vaccine trials and investigates the mechanisms of malaria-protective immune responses.

Get in touch

  • Tran Malaria Lab
    1044 West Walnut Street
    R4, Room 432 A
    Indianapolis, Indiana 46202
    United States
  • Email Us