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Ruobing Wang, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute
Affiliate Associate Professor, Department of Global Health, University of Washington
Area of Expertise: malaria, immunology, clinical trials
Ruobing Wang’s research is focused on malaria vaccine development. Her expertise in immunology and clinical trial experience joins that of other scientists in Seattle BioMed's malaria program to study the immune correlates of protection against malaria infection induced by live attenuated parasite vaccines that target liver stage parasites. This will identify immune biomarkers of protection that could be used to select new antigens for development of effective subunit vaccines against malaria infection and to predict vaccine efficacy in human trials.
For more than 15 years, Wang has been involved in the design, production, and testing of vaccines to control the most important human malaria parasites: P. falciparum, the parasite that imposes the greatest morbidity and mortality burdens in sub-Saharan Africa; and P. vivax, a parasite prevalent in Asia, Oceania, and the Americas.
Despite decades of research, malaria is still highly prevalent and a major global health problem. Achieving malaria elimination will rely largely on the availability of a safe and efficacious malaria vaccine that will prevent infection by the Plasmodium parasite. As a part of collaborative efforts with Stefan Kappe, Ph.D. and Affiliate Member Patrick Duffy, M.D. to develop a long-lasting protective vaccine, Wang’s lab examines the delineation of the immune mechanisms by which protective live attenuated vaccines work in vivo. This approach is then used to identify biomarkers that reliably correlate with protection against malaria infection using systems biology approaches. These efforts will lead to identification of a set of distinctive markers necessary to guide the rational selection of optimal vaccine antigens, the design of novel protective subunit vaccine(s) against malaria infection, and the methods to monitor the outcome of vaccinations in interventional trials of humans. Transition of standardized biomarker detection assays to the field will accelerate the pace and reduce the costs associated with testing malaria vaccines in humans.
Wang has also worked on the development of a high-throughput immunological approach to rapidly characterize potential vaccine candidates identified via the malaria parasite genome sequence. Using her in vitro platform, she has identified a set of novel P. vivax liver stage antigens that are targets of T cell responses in humans who have acquired immunity and are living in malaria endemic areas of Colombia. Preclinical evaluation of these vaccine antigens is currently underway. Wang is also examining the differential gene expression profiles in immune cells from humans naturally exposed to P. vivax malaria by stimulating the immune cells from these individuals in vitro with P. vivax-specific antigens. The goal is to learn which antigen(s) induce protective responses after natural exposure. These efforts will support the development of an effective vaccine against P. vivax infection.
- Systems biology
Immune signatures of protection
Malaria vaccine antigen discovery
- Host immunity to pre-erythrocytic vaccines
Live attenuated parasite vaccines in mice
Immune responses elicited by human vaccines
- Development of an in vitro assay for the identification of novel malaria antigens
- Functional immunological assays
ISI (Inhibition of sporozoite invasion)
ILSDA (Inhibition of liver stage development assay)
Wang's research is currently supported by funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI).