Mr Juan Balbin
Higher Degree by Research Candidate
School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Sciences
I am undertaking my PhD in the Wilson Lab, Research Centre for Infectious Diseases (University of Adelaide) characterising the roles of merozoite protein homologues of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum with a focus on erythrocyte invasion.
Approximately half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria, with >400,000 deaths reported annually with no effective vaccine available. In response, we must continue to identify novel proteins with promising vaccine potential. For my project I am characterising two merozoite protein homologues, which we believe are involved in the ability of the most deadly malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, to invade red blood cells (RBCs). Specifically, my research focuses on the invasive merozoites of the blood stage lifecycle (pictured from left to right: invading merozoite, ring, trophozoite, schizont, rupturing schizont releasing daughter merozoites) - the crucial point in the P. falciparum lifecycle responsible for all clinical symptoms of malaria.
For one of these proteins, Pf3D7_1468400, a previous study has suggested that antibodies raised towards this protein inhibit parasite invasion, and therefore prevented further blood stage cycles (Daubenberger et al. 2003). In support of this, gene expression data suggested this protein is highly expressed towards the end of the blood stage which inferred its role in the next round of invasion. In contrast, no studies have been conducted focusing on the structural homologue Pf3D7_0818100, but we have identified similarities in gene expression and protein structure with Pf3D7_1468400 which suggest common functions between these proteins. I anticipate that a greater understanding of the function(s) of these proteins will not only contribute to knowledge in invasion biology, but will also inform their vaccine development potential.
Date Position Institution name 2019 - 2019 Laboratory Demonstrator (Level II MBS) The University of Adelaide 2016 - 2016 Japanese Language Tutor - Japanese Language and Culture Society (JLACS) The University of Adelaide
Awards and Achievements
Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount 2019 Achievement Australian Society for Parasitology 2019 Conference - Best Oral Presentation Award Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Australia — 2019 Achievement Adelaide Protein Group 2019 Student Awards - Outstanding Poster Presentation Award Adelaide Protein Group Australia —
Language Competency English Can read, write, speak and understand spoken Japanese Can read, write, speak and understand spoken
Date Institution name Country Title 2018 The University of Adelaide Australia PhD Candidate 2015 - 2018 The University of Adelaide Australia Diploma in Languages (Japanese Studies) 2015 - 2017 The University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Science (Advanced)
Date Title Institution Country 2018 Doctor of Philosophy The University of Adelaide Australia
Date Title Institution name Country 2018 Japanese Language Proficiency N3 Japan Foundation Japan
Year Citation 2021 Liffner, B., Balbin, J. M., Wichers, J. S., Gilberger, T. -W., & Wilson, D. W. (2021). The Ins and Outs of Plasmodium Rhoptries, Focusing on the Cytosolic Side.. Trends in parasitology, 37(7), 638-650.
DOI Scopus1 WoS1 Europe PMC1
2019 Burns, A. L., Dans, M. G., Balbin, J. M., F de Koning-Ward, T., Gilson, P. R., Beeson, J. G., . . . Wilson, D. W. (2019). Targeting malaria parasite invasion of red blood cells as an antimalarial strategy. FEMS Microbiology Reviews, 43(3), 223-238.
DOI Scopus23 WoS23 Europe PMC7
|Funder||Grant||Year of award||Years active|
|Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German: German Academic Exchange Service)||Australia-Germany Joint Research Co-operation Scheme||2019||2020-2021|
|Laboratory Demonstrator (Level II MBS)||Department of Molecular and Biomedical Science||Aug 2019 - Sept 2019|
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