Alan Cowman is a parasitologist and cell biologist who specialises in researching the malaria-causing parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, and the molecular mechanisms it uses to evade host responses and antimalarial drugs. His work has enabled geographic monitoring of the spread of drug-resistant malaria. Through increased understanding of the disease, Alan aims to develop new treatments and vaccines.
He has shown how the malaria parasite invades red blood cells and remodels them, in order to multiply beyond the sight of the host’s immune system. He is also a leader in unravelling the genetics of this parasite and was the first to knock out a gene in P. falciparum. This work led to the development of a live genetically attenuated vaccine, which is currently being tested in clinical trials.
Alan has published over 290 scientific papers during his career. He has won many awards for his research, including the Federation of Asian and Oceanian Biochemists and Molecular Biologists Award for Research Excellence in 2014. In addition, he is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences.
Head of Division, Division of Infection and Immunity, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI)