The Dimopoulos Group is part of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute and the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health. VIDEO PRESENTATION

The Dimopoulos group

The Dimopolos Group was established in 2001 at Imperial College London and is since 2003 part of the John's Hopkins Malaria Research Institute and the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the John's Hopkins School of Public Health.

The group’s ongoing and future research program broadly focuses on the innate immune systems and microbiomes of mosquito disease vectors, and how these can be used to attenuate human pathogen transmission. Our research comprises several independent but synergistically interacting projects. We are interested in understanding the role and mechanisms of the mosquito’s innate immune system in the defense against human pathogens such as Plasmodium and the Dengue virus. A major focus is concentrated on Anopheles gambiae anti-Plasmodium defense systems that kill parasites in the midgut tissue. Towards this, we have contributed with several pioneering discoveries. Our mission is to characterize the defense mechanisms employed by mosquito vectors against human pathogens. Another major research area focuses on the naturally occurring microbes of the mosquito intestine and how they can directly and indirectly influence the mosquito's susceptibility to infection with human pathogens. Our competitive advantage derives from a unique blend of core competencies in molecular entomology, innate immunity and functional genomics, as well as the access to state-of-the-art research infrastructure. The long-term goal of our research program is to broaden the basic knowledge of this field and provide new tools for the development of vector borne disease control strategies.

Malaria is transmitted by anopheline mosquitoes and caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium. The four species of Plasmodium that can infect humans are Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium malariae. The two former are the most serious. Symptoms of malaria are fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Severe complications can develop if left untreated. Approximately 515 million cases of malaria occur worldwide each year, and over one million people deaths, mostly young children in sub-Saharan Africa. Bednets, insecticides, and antimalarial drugs are currently employed to fight malaria. However, malaria is a disease of poverty, and is also the cause of poverty; the socioeconomic impact of malaria is vast. Eradication of this disease is therefore expected to lead to major improvements in the endemic areas.

Dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever are caused by dengue viruses that belong to the Flavivirus genus. Four antigenically distinct serotypes exist (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4) and infection with one serotypes results in immunity to only that serotype. Dengue viruses are spread by Aedes mosquitoes. The Aedes aegypti is the most common dengue vector. The geographic distribution of dengue is similar to malaria but more frequently associated to urban areas.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute