Skip to main content

News Article

Malaria research leads CDU graduate to USA

Dr Damian Oyong
Dr Damian Oyong has made a significant contribution to the fight against Malaria

Research on a disease that impacts more than 200 million people globally each year has led a Charles Darwin University PhD graduand to Seattle in the United States to continue vital immunology work towards global malaria elimination.

Malaria poses a significant health burden globally, with more than 400,000 people losing their lives annually. Completing his PhD with CDU through the Menzies School of Health Research, Damian Oyong has made a significant contribution to fighting the disease.

Hailing from Indonesia, Dr Oyong said he was driven to help in the fight against the disease that continued to affect his local community of Papua, in Eastern Indonesia. The World Health Organisation estimates there are around one million cases of malaria annually in Indonesia, with most infections occurring in the Papuan province.

“My PhD research focused on the induction mechanisms of functional antibodies that can effectively attack the malaria parasites and prevent malaria,” he said.

“I looked at what immune system pathways were generating these antibodies, and how an individual’s age impacted antibody production.”

The findings of Dr Oyong, who will graduate with his PhD from CDU this week, would contribute to the development of an anti-malarial vaccine and saving lives.

“We found that adults generate higher amounts of protective antibodies compared to children during malarial infection,” Dr Oyong said. “Our results suggest that this age-dependent antibody production is due to the distinct profiles of T-cells of children and adults.”

He said research outcomes were significant, especially in the context of anti-malarial vaccine development since most vaccines were targeted for children where the burden of malaria was highest.

“This improved understanding of the immune cells responsible for the production of antibodies and their types will help contribute to malaria protection,” Dr Oyong said.

“I hope that my research work will contribute to the development of effective anti-malarial vaccines by gaining more understanding of how our body’s immune system reacts to malarial infection. The discovery of malaria vaccines will bring hope to global malaria elimination, which will also have a tremendous impact on my home region.”

Dr Oyong said he chose to study with CDU because he wanted to pursue his PhD under the mentorship of leading malaria researchers.

“Menzies School of Health Research is known globally for its impact in infectious disease research,” he said. “This research through CDU has a direct impact on international communities including my home country of Indonesia.”

Dr Oyong’s PhD research has led him to a role as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, where he is continuing to research human malaria immunology as part of an international team.

Related Articles

  • Charles Darwin University’s Behavioural Addictions, Alcohol and Drugs (BAAD) team to survey Northern Territorians’ gambling habits.

    CDU receives funds to survey people in the NT on their experience with gambling

    A new Charles Darwin University (CDU) survey will seek to obtain an accurate snapshot of the experience of gambling in the Northern Territory.

    Read more about CDU receives funds to survey people in the NT on their experience with gambling
  • A joint study between CDU and the University of Tehran identified a new vulnerability in blockchain technology that threatens its use in Industry 4.0.

    Cyber security experts identify new threat to blockchain technology

    A study from Charles Darwin University (CDU) and the University of Tehran in Iran has identified a new cyber threat that brings into doubt blockchain security for use in critical infrastructure.

    Read more about Cyber security experts identify new threat to blockchain technology
  • The album Songs of Disappearance, produced by Charles Darwin University PhD candidate Anthony Albrecht, looks set to be another hit following the success of the bird song album he produced last year.

    Frog sounds set to light up the music charts

    The creative team behind an album of bird songs that shook the top of Australia’s music charts are at it again with a new album and a new animal.

    Read more about Frog sounds set to light up the music charts