Stanley Otoboh

Research Interests and PhD Aims

My research areas are genetics, parasitology and infectious disease. I am particularly interested in malaria research, investigating host-parasite interactions aimed at identifying targets/strategies for novel malaria drug and vaccine development. Malaria is a disease of global concern, with half of the world’s population at risk, accounting for an annual 216 million cases and about 450,000 deaths worldwide, 91% of which occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of these deaths are caused by Plasmodium falciparum.

Rosetting, the binding of P. falciparum infected erythrocytes (IE) to uninfected red blood cells to form clusters (rosettes) is thought to contribute to cerebral malaria and other severe malaria forms by obstructing blood flow to brains and other essential organs, resulting to hypoxia and tissue damage. Rosetting phenotypes are mediated through the adhesive properties of a hyper-variable parasite protein, P. falciparum Erythrocyte Membrane Protein 1 (PfEMP1), encoded by the var gene family of which there are about 60 distinct copies per parasite genome. Two var genes have been identified as encoding rosette-mediating PfEMP1 variants, called “IT4var60” and “IT4var09”. Despite these encouraging results, the role of PfEMP1 in adhesion in live IEs has never been investigated directly, mainly due to the difficulty in genetically manipulating P. falciparum.

My PhD aims to investigate the hypothesis that specific motifs within PfEMP1 mediate rosetting, utilizing CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. This will contribute to the rational design of anti-rosetting interventions with the ultimate goal of reducing deaths from severe malaria.


2019 – Present

  • PhD, Evolutionary Biology, Immunology and Infection Research – Darwin Trust of Edinburgh studentship, University of Edinburgh

2017 – 2018

  • MSc, Medical Genetics and Genomics, University of Glasgow

2012 – 2015

  • BSc (Hons) with First Class, Medical Genetics, Swansea University