Malaria Research Centre

Last modified by laza on 2013/06/28 16:47

The Malaria Research Centre (MRC) was established as one of the two Centres of Excellence by UNIMAS in January 2006. This was in recognition of the major contributions to malaria research by Prof Balbir Singh, Prof Janet Cox-Singh and co-researchers at the Malaria Research Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. These two scientists joined UNIMAS in 1999 to establish laboratory-based research in the new Medical Faculty and with financial support from UNIMAS, they were instrumental in designing and equipping state-of-the-art research laboratories. The acquisition of research grants from Wellcome Trust, United Kingdom, the Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment and UNIMAS, enabled them to train young scientists and establish an active group of researchers working on malaria.


Emanuel Wolinsky Award presented in 2009 by the Infectious Diseases Society of America for the paper in Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID) by Cox-Singh et al. entitled ‘Plasmodium knowlesi malaria in humans is widely distributed and potentially life threatening’ . It was adjudged by editors of CID as the best original clinical research paper published in CID for the year 2008.


The studies at the MRC are aimed at obtaining a greater understanding of the epidemiology, population genetics, clinical features and pathophysiology of malaria parasites in this region. One of our major discoveries was of a large focus in Sarawak of human infections with Plasmodium knowlesi, a parasite normally found in long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques. Subsequent reports of human knowlesi malaria in other parts of Malaysia and many countries in Southeast Asia have resulted in P. knowlesi being recognised as the fifth species of Plasmodium causing human malaria. We have recently characterised P. knowlesi malaria clinically and compared parasite diversity in the human and non-human hosts. Current studies are aimed at identifying parasite and host determinants that contribute to the differential susceptibility of humans to P. knowlesi infection. We are also characterising malaria parasites in orangutans and small mammals, and studying the interactions between P. falciparum and traditional medicinal plants used in endemic areas of Malaysian Borneo. 

The MRC comprises senior scientists, postgraduates, and research assistants from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Faculty of Resource Science and Technology, UNIMAS. We are working and have worked in close collaboration with colleagues from within and outside Malaysia. These include scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, St George’s University of London, the University of Western Australia, Karolinska Institute in Sweden, the University of Alberta in Canada, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in the Philippines, Bogor Agricultural University and Syiah Kuala University in Indonesia, the Biomedical Primate Research Centre in the Netherlands, the Environmental Health Institute Singapore, the Sarawak Health Department, the Sabah Health Department, the Pahang Health Department, the Sabah Wildlife Department and the Institute of Medical Research, Malaysia.

Research (Since 2009)

  1. Fatih, F.A., Siner, A., Ahmed, A., Woon, L.C., Craig, A., Singh, B., Krishna, S. & Cox-Singh, J. (2012) Cytoadherence and virulence – the case of Plasmodium knowlesi malaria. Malaria Journal, 11, 33.

  2. Sermwittayawong, N., Singh, B., Nishibuchi, M., Swangjaroen, N. & Vuddhakul, V. (2012) Human Plasmodium knowlesi infection in Ranong province, south-western border of Thailand. Malaria Journal, 11, 36.

  3. Khim, N, Siv, S., Kim, S., Mueller, T., Fleischmann, E., Singh, B., Divis, P.C.S., Steenkeste, N., Duval, L., Bouchier, C., Duong, S., Ariey, F., Didier Ménard, D. (2011) Plasmodium knowlesi infection in humans, Cambodia, 2007-2010. Emerging Infectious Diseases 17(10). 1900-1902.

  4. Cox-Singh, J., Singh, B., Daneshvar, C., Planche, T., Parker-Williams, J. & Krishna, S. (2011) Anti-inflammatory cytokines predominate in acute human Plasmodium knowlesi infections. PLoS ONE, 6(6): e20541.

  5. Lee, K-S., Divis, P.C.S., Zakaria, S.K., Matusop, A., Julin, R.A., Cox-Singh, J., Conway, D.J. & Singh, B. (2011) Plasmodium knowlesi: Reservoir hosts and tracking the emergence in macaques and humans. PLoS Pathogens, 7(4): e1002015.

  6. Wong, P.S.J., Tan, C.H., Lee, V., Li, M.Z.I., Lee, K.S., Lee, P.J., Singh, B. & Ng, L.C. (2011) Molecular epidemiological investigation of Plasmodium knowlesi in humans and macaques in Singapore. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 11, 131-135.

  7. Divis, P.C.S., Shokoples, S.E., Singh, B. & Yanow, S.K. (2010) A TaqMan real-time PCR assay for the detection and quantitation of Plasmodium knowlesi. Malaria Journal, 9, 344.

  8. Singh, B. & Daneshvar, C. (2010) Plasmodium knowlesi malaria in Malaysia. Medical Journal of Malaysia, 65, 224-230.

  9. Daneshvar, C., Davis, T.M.E, Cox-Singh, J., Rafa'ee, M.Z., Zakaria, S.K., Divis, P.C.S. & Singh, B. (2010) Clinical and parasitological response to oral chloroquine and primaquine in uncomplicated human Plasmodium knowlesiinfections. Malaria Journal, 9, 238.

  10. Cox-Singh, J., Singh, B. & Krishna, S. (2010) Plasmodium knowlesi: the fifth human malaria. In: Emerging Infections 9, Ed.: W.M. Sheld, M.L. Grayson & J.M. Hughes, ASM Press, Washington DC, USA; pp. 261-271.

  11. Cox-Singh, J., Hiu, J., Lucas, S.B., Divis, P.C., Zulkarnean, M., Chandran, P., Wong, K.T., Adem, P., Zaki, S.R., Singh, B. & Krishna, S. (2010) Severe malaria - a case of fatal Plasmodium knowlesi infection with post-mortem findings.Malaria Journal, 9, 10.
  12. Ahouidi, A.D., Bei, A.K., Neafsey, D.E., Sarr, O., Volkman, S., Milner, D., Cox-Singh, J., Ferreira, M.U., Ndir, O., Premji, Z., Mboup, S., Duraisingh, M.T. (2010) Population genetic analysis of large sequence polymorphisms in Plasmodium knowlesi blood-stage antigens. Infection, Genetics & Evolution, 10, 200-206.

  13. Daneshvar, C., Davis, T.M.E., Cox-Singh, J., Rafa'ee, M.Z., Zakaria, S.K., Divis, P.C.S. & Singh, B. (2009) Clinical and laboratory features of human Plasmodium knowlesii infections. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 49, 852-8

  14. Singh, B. & Divis, P.C.S. (2009) Orangutans not infected with Plasmodium vivax or P. cynomolgi, Indonesia.Emerging Infectious Diseases, 15, 1657-1658.

  15. Lee, K-S., Cox-singh, J., Brooke, G., Matusop, A. & Singh, B. (2009) Palsmodium knowlesi from archival blood films: further evidence that human infections are widely distributed and not newly emergent in Malaysian Borneo.International Journal for Parasitology, 39, 1125-1128.

  16. Myers, W.P., Myers, A.P., Cox-Singh, J., Lau, H.C., Mokui, B. & Malley, R. (2009) Micro-geographic risk factors for malaria infection, Malaria Journal, 8, 27.

  17. Lee, K-S., Cox-Singh, J. & Singh, B. (2009) Morphological features and differential counts of Plasmodium knowlesiparasites in naturally acquired human infections. Malaria Journal, 8, 73.

  18. Willmann, M., Ahmed, A., Siner, A., Tien, W.I., Woon, L.C., Singh, B., Krishna, S. & Cox-Singh, J. (2012) Laboratory markers of disease severity in Plasmodium knowlesi infection: a case control study. Malaria Journal, 11:363.

Research Featured on TV

Our research on Plasmodium knowlesi malaria was featured in a Television Documentary entitled Monkey Malaria, aired by Australian Broadcasting Corp on 2nd April 2009. This documentary won the award for the Best Documentary in the field of Health & Health Sciences at the 2009 Excellence in Health Journalism Awards run by the National Press Club of Australia.

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Created by laza on 2013/06/28 16:43

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