Dr Hussein Abkallo

BSc, MSc, PhD


Research Interests

The most severe pathological outcome of Plasmodium falciparum infection, cerebral malaria, is primarily caused by the sequestration of infected erythrocytes in the microvasculature of the brain. Cytoadherence is known to be mediated through P. falciparum Erythrocyte Membrane Protein 1 (PfEMP1), an infected erythrocyte surface protein that adheres to a variety of host cell receptors. On-going attempts at devising therapeutic or preventive interventions to prevent and/or alleviate rosetting are hindered by the fact that PfEMP1 is extremely polymorphic both between parasite strains and, due to the multi-copy nature of the genes encoding it, within single parasite strains. PfEMP1 is encoded by var genes and each var gene is mutually exclusively expressed and encodes a unique PfEMP1 protein. Previous studies have shown the expression of certain var genes is associated with cerebral malaria, and with the infected erythrocytes’ rosette-forming ability. The alignments of a functional erythrocyte binding domain of rosette-mediating PfEMP1 variants from assorted rosetting and non-rosetting PfEMP1 variants have revealed several predicted surface loops that may be involved in rosetting. Using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology, I will test the role of specific PfEMP1 regions and variants in rosette formation in P. falciparum. Ascertaining the role of PfEMP1 in rosette formation may aid in the development of new therapies for preventing and treating severe malaria.


2016 – present

  • The Royal Society Newton International Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

2010 – 2015

  • MSc & PhD in Medical Sciences (Infections Research), Nagasaki University, Japan.

2009 – 2010

  • Clinical Data Manager – KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kilifi – Kenya 

2008 – 2009

  • Assistant Clinical Data Manager – University of Washington HIV Project, Nairobi – Kenya. 

2007 – 2007

  • Research Intern at KEMRI/USAMRU-K, Nairobi, Kenya. 

2003 – 2007

  • BSc. (Hons) Biomedical Sciences (Medical Biotechnology), Maseno University, Kenya.


Hussein M. Abkallo, Julie-Anne Tangena, Jianxia Tang, Nobuyuki Kobayashi , Megumi Inoue, Augustin Zoungrana, Nick Colegrave & Richard Culleton: Within-host competition does not select for virulence in malaria parasites; studies with Plasmodium yoelii, PLoS Pathog. 11(2):e1004628. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004628

Richard L. Culleton & Hussein M. Abkallo. Malaria Parasite Genetics: Doing Something Useful. Parasitology International (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parint.2014.07.006

Hussein M. Abkallo, Weimin Liu, Sarina Hokama, Pedro E. Ferreira, Shusuke Nakazawa, Yoshimasa Maeno, Nguyen T. Quang, Nobuyuki Kobayashi, Osamu Kaneko, Michael A. Huffman, Satoru Kawai, Ron P. Marchand, Richard Carter, Beatrice H. Hahn, Richard Culleton. DNA from pre-erythrocytic stage malaria parasites is detectable by PCR in the faeces and blood of hosts. International Journal for Parasitology 44 (2014) 467.473

 Hussein M. Abkallo, Hiroaki Kawano, Ken Watanabe, Nobuyuki Kobayashi: A new cell-based reporter system for sensitive screening of nuclear export inhibitors, Drug Discoveries & Therapeutics; Dec 2011, Vol. 5 Issue 6, p286