Director's Seminar Series - Professor Jake Baum, The University of New South Wales

Paratechnology - New tools for malaria control and eradication


Malaria was estimated to cause more than 240 million cases worldwide in 2020. This translated into 640,000 deaths, primarily among children under the age of 5, with 80% of these deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. To meet the WHO goal of a 90% reduction of malaria incidence and mortality by the end of this decade, a highly effective malaria vaccine is vital. Whilst RTS,S/AS01, the malaria vaccine developed by GSK and recommended by WHO, does provide partial protection, as a singular tool it won’t be enough. To truly bend the curve and get malaria rates back on a path towards control, requires new innovations, in particular new strategies in diagnostics, treatments and a long-lived efficacious vaccine. In this talk Professor Jake Baum will discuss some of the latest technologies and innovations from his research lab, highlighting recent vignettes in diagnostics and vaccine development, all aimed at advancing applications that will return global malaria control efforts towards eradication/elimination.


Jake Baum is a parasitologist, cell biologist and innovator in parasite translational research. Following Bachelors’ and Masters’ degrees at Oxford, and a PhD from the London School of Hygiene (2002) he joined the Walter + Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia to work on the molecular and cellular biology of the malaria parasite. During this time, Jake co-discovered PfRH5, the current lead-of-field blood-stage malaria vaccine, a discovery that facilitated establishing his own independent lab in 2010. In 2013, Jake returned to the UK to Imperial College London, and was later appointed Professor of Cell Biology and Infectious Diseases (2017). In 2020 Jake co-founded the Imperial College Institute of Infection, a new Institute charged with representing the entire interdisciplinary research portfolio of infection research across the University. Most recently, in 2022, Jake was recruited back to Australia to take up a tenured Professorship and position as Head of School of Medical Sciences at UNSW, Sydney. Since its inception in 2010, the Baum lab has developed major programs in fundamental cell biology (working on invasion, motility, and transmission), imaging-based drug discovery and novel diagnostic technologies, often working together with industry partnerships. In the past 5 years the lab’s core focus has centred on development of a pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine, funded by the Gates Foundation and Wellcome. Jake has published >100 papers and holds 3 patents. He is a former recipient of a Victorian Tall Poppy Award, the Merck Millipore Medal from the ASBMB, the Burnet Prize from the WEHI and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, UK.