Dr Michelle Boyle
Menzies School of Health Research/Burnet Institute
Malaria kills about half a million people each year, the majority of them children. Malaria is transmitted by mosquitos and is caused by a parasite that infects red blood cells. Currently, there are no good vaccines to protect from malaria. Part of the difficulty in developing vaccines is limited knowledge of how the body fights malaria and prevents the disease.
Dr Boyle’s work is focused on understanding how a specific part of the immune system, called antibodies, blocks the parasite from infecting red blood cells. Her research has shown that antibodies need to team-up with another part of the immune system called ‘complement’ to block infection. Without complement, many antibodies don’t function.This finding is important for vaccine development as it identifies the right sort of antibodies that stop the parasite and prevent disease. She is now working with private companies to develop and test new vaccines against malaria.
During her time as a post-doctoral scholar at the University of California, San Francisco (2013-2015), she was a STEM tutor for under-resourced primary- and high-school aged students at a local community organisation (826 Valencia). To increase her abilities to engage young audiences, she completed STEM primary education Teaching Workshop, with the Science and Health Education Partnership.
I am a firm believer that scientific research findings should be made accessible to the general community. She has given several interviews for new outlets, including for SBS Television News and on the RRR Radio – Einstein Go-Go science program.