Jessie Jungels

Research Interests

Since studying biology during my undergraduate degree, I’ve developed an interest in vector-borne diseases, parasitology and host-pathogen interactions. I am particularly interested in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and antigenic variation, a mechanism the parasite uses to escape the host immune system.

One of the main protein families involved in antigenic variation is Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1). Each parasite expresses ~60 PfEMP1 variants on the surface of infected red blood cells, which can adhere to other red blood cells to form clusters called rosettes. Rosetting red blood cells sequester in the microvasculature, which in turn has been associated with symptoms of cerebral malaria and other forms of severe malaria.  

My PhD project aims to better understand a subgroup of rosetting PfEMP1 variants, called domain cassette 11 (DC11). By combining bioinformatics and CRISPR-Cas9 technology, I am investigating the role of DC11 variants in rosetting, which host receptors they interact with, and the molecular mechanisms that mediate rosetting. This research will help elucidate the rosetting phenotype in Plasmodium falciparum and contribute to the development of anti-rosetting therapies and vaccines against malaria.



PhD in Hosts, Pathogens and Global Health (Wellcome Trust programme), University of Edinburgh


MScR in Hosts, Pathogens and Global Health, University of Edinburgh


MSc Infection and Immunity, University College London


BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen