Profile image of Tania De Koning-Ward

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward





Faculty of Health


School of Medicine


Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus


Bachelor of Science, University of Melbourne, 1992
Doctor of Philosophy, University of Melbourne, 1996
Graduate Certificate of Higher Education, Deakin University, 2011


Career highlights

Profile of Associate Professor de Koning-Ward

The consistent theme of A/Prof de Koning-Ward’s research has been to investigate virulence mechanisms of, and immunity to human and animal model pathogens, using molecular genetics as a primary tool. A/Prof de Koning-Ward has developed experience in both rodent and human malaria transgenesis systems during postdoctoral stints at Leiden University (The Netherlands) and The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, the latter commencing with an NHMRC Howard Florey Centenary Fellowship.  Following these postdoctoral positions, A/Prof de Koning-Ward was appointed as Senior Lecturer within Deakin University’s Medical School, a combined research and teaching position, with the latter involving the coordination of the Infection, Defence and Repair Unit for 1st year medical students. Since 2011 she has relinquished this teaching component to take up an NHMRC fellowship to expand her independent research program at Deakin University. She was awarded the Commonwealth Health Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Health and Medical Research in 2011.



Malaria is one of the world’s most devastating human health problems, with Plasmodium falciparum, the most lethal of the human malaria species, causing ~660 000 deaths annually.  Unfortunately there is no licenced malaria vaccine and resistance to currently available anti-malaria drugs is now very widespread. Thus, there is a desperate need to identify new intervention strategies to reduce the global malaria parasite burden.

The focus of our research is investigations into the virulence mechanisms of, and development of immunity to, malaria parasites using a range of molecular, biochemical and microscopy approaches. We utilise both human (P. falciparum) and rodent (P. berghei) malaria transgenesis systems to genetically modify malaria genes to dissect gene function or to introduce reporter genes to study the localisation of parasite proteins within the infected red blood cell (RBC). The use of both transgenesis systems enables the characterisation of proteins in the clinically relevant human malaria parasite, which is predominantly cultured in blood cells in vitro, and the dissection of the functional significance and contribution of these proteins to pathogenesis and immunity using an in vivo mouse model of malaria infection. By understanding the key mechanisms by which parasites are able to survive within their host and cause disease, we aim to discover new drug targets that can be used to prevent the large morbidity and mortality associated with malaria infections.


We are now recruiting Honours and PhD Students to work on the following project areas. Please email expressions of interest to A/Prof de Koning-Ward.

1. Understanding how malaria parasites remodel their host red blood cell (RBC).
Malaria parasites spend nearly their entire cell cycle within RBCs and to thrive inside the bloodstream the parasites export ~ 8% of their encoded genome (~350 proteins) into the host RBC. Here, the exported proteins are involved in the acquisition of nutrients from host serum or have virulence-associated roles. In 2009, we made a significant breakthrough in our understanding of protein export through the identification of a novel protein machinery that exports parasite proteins into the host RBC (de Koning-Ward et al, Nature, 2009).  Since this machinery provides a common portal through which all or most of the exported proteins must pass and these proteins are involved in processes crucial to parasite virulence and viability, this translocon represents an outstanding target for malaria chemotherapeutic intervention. Our work is now aimed at characterising the various components of this machinery so that the mechanistic details of how proteins are trafficked from the parasite and into to RBC can be unravelled.

2. Characterisation of exported proteins
In addition to understanding the trafficking pathways that are used by the malaria parasite to export its proteins into its host cells, we are also characterising different classes of exported proteins to delineate their role in host cell remodelling and pathogenesis.

3. Dissecting the contribution of key malaria proteins to pathogenesis and immune evasion
We use reverse genetics to modify malaria parasites in combination with infection studies, post-genomic, biochemical, and cell biology approaches to identify and validate new drug and vaccine targets. 

4. Dissecting the role of rhoptry body proteins in parasite invasion and establishment of new permeation pathways in the infected RBC.

5. Dissecting the molecular mechanisms by which malaria parasites are able to cause severe anemia in susceptible individuals.


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Plasmodium species: master renovators of their host cells

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Matthew W A Dixon, Prof Leann Tilley, Dr Paul Gilson

(2016), Vol. 14, pp. 494-507, Nature reviews microbiology, London, Eng., C1


Proteomic analysis reveals novel proteins associated with the Plasmodium protein exporter PTEX and a loss of complex stability upon truncation of the core PTEX component, PTEX150

Brendan Elsworth, Paul R. Sanders, Thomas Nebl, Steven Bantinovic, Dr Ming Kalanon, Catherine Q. Nie, Sarah C. Charnaud, Hayley E Bullen, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Prof Leann Tilley, Brendan S. Crabb, Paul R. Gilson

(2016), Vol. 18, pp. 1551-1569, Cell Microbiology, Chichester, Eng., C1


Advances in molecular genetic systems in malaria

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Dr Paul Gilson, Brendan S. Crabb

(2015), Vol. 13, pp. 373-387, Nature reviews microbiology, London, Eng., C1


The PTEX component EXP2 is critical for establishing a patent malaria infection in mice

Dr Ming Kalanon, Daniel Bargieri, Angelika Sturm, Kathryn Matthews, Ms Sreejoyee Ghosh, Sabine Thiberge, Vanessa Mollard, Geoffrey McFadden, Robert Menard, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward

(2015), Vol. In press, pp. 1-14, Cellular microbiology, Weinheim, Germany, C1


CD8+ T cells from a novel T cell receptor transgenic mouse induce liver-stage immunity that can be boosted by blood-stage infection in rodent malaria

Lei Shong Lau, Daniel Fernandez-Ruiz, Vanessa Mollard, Angelika Sturm, Michelle Neller, Anton Cozijnsen, Julia Gregory, Gayle M. Davey, Claerwen Jones, Yi-Hsuan Lin, Ashraful Haque, Christian R. Engwerda, Catherine Q. Nie, Diana S. Hansen, Kenneth Murphy, Anthony T. Papenfuss, John J Miles, Scott R Burrows, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Geoffrey McFadden, Francis R. Carbone, Prof Brendan Crabb, William R. Heath

(2014), Vol. 10, pp. 1-16, PLoS pathogens, San Francisco, CA, C1


PTEX is an essential nexus for protein export in malaria parasites

Brendan Elsworth, Kathryn Matthews, Catherine Q. Nie, Dr Ming Kalanon, Sarah C. Charnaud, Paul R. Sanders, Scott A. Chisholm, Natalie A. Counihan, Philip J. Shaw, Paco Pino, Jo-Anne Chan, Mauro F. Azevedo, Stephen J. Rogerson, James G. Beeson, Brendan S. Crabb, Paul R. Gilson, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward

(2014), Vol. 511, pp. 587-591, Nature, London, United Kingdom, C1


The exported protein PbCP1 localises to cleft-like structures in the rodent malaria parasite Plasmodium berghei

Dr Silvia Haase, Dr Eric Hanssen, Kathryn Matthews, Dr Ming Kalanon, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward

(2013), Vol. 8, pp. 1-11, PLoS one, San Francisco, Calif., C1


Plasmodium rhoptry proteins: why order is important

Dr Natalie Counihan, Dr Ming Kalanon, Ross L. Coppel, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward

(2013), Vol. 29, pp. 228-236, Trends in parasitology, Oxford, England, C1


Host cell remodelling and protein trafficking

Dr Silvia Haase, Hayley E Bullen, Sarah C Charnaud, Prof Brendan Crabb, Dr Paul Gilson, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward

(2013), pp. 199-219, Malaria parasites : comparative genomics, evolution and molecular biology, Wymondham, England, B1


The Plasmodium translocon of exported proteins (PTEX) component thioredoxin-2 is important for maintaining normal blood-stage growth

Kathryn Matthews, Dr Ming Kalanon, Mr Scott Chisholm, Angelika Sturm, C. Dean Goodman, Matthew W A Dixon, Paul R. Sanders, Thomas Nebl, Ms Fiona Fraser, Dr Silvia Haase, Geoffrey McFadden, Dr Paul Gilson, Prof Brendan Crabb, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward

(2013), pp. 1-20, Molecular microbiology, Chichester, England, C1


Biosynthesis, localization, and macromolecular arrangement of the plasmodium falciparum translocon of exported proteins (PTEX)

Hayley E Bullen, Sarah C Charnaud, Dr Ming Kalanon, David T Riglar, Chaitali Dekiwadia, Niwat Kangwanrangsan, Motomi Torii, Takafumi Tsuboi, Jake Baum, Dr Stuart A Ralph, Prof Alan Cowman, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Prof Brendan Crabb, Dr Paul Gilson

(2012), Vol. 287, pp. 7871-7884, Journal of biological chemistry, Bethesda, Md., C1


Investigation of the plasmodium falciparum food vacuole through inducible expression of the chloroquine resistance transporter (PfCRT)

Florian Ehlgen, James S. Pham, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Prof Alan Cowman, Dr Stuart A Ralph

(2012), Vol. 7, pp. -, PLoS One, San Francisco, Calif., C1


Blood-stage plasmodium berghei infection generates a potent, specific CD8⁺ T-cell response despite residence largely in cells lacking MHC I processing machinery

Lei Shong Lau, Daniel Fernandez Ruiz, Gayle M. Davey, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Anthony T. Papenfuss, Francis R. Carbone, Andrew G. Brooks, Prof Brendan Crabb, William R. Heath

(2011), Vol. 204, pp. 1989-1996, Journal of infectious diseases, Cary, N.C., C1


Toward forward genetic screens in malaria-causing parasites using the piggyBac transposon

Prof Brendan Crabb, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Dr Paul Gilson

(2011), Vol. 9, pp. 1-4, BMC biology, London, U. K., C1


A research agenda for malaria eradication: basic science and enabling technologies

Rhoel Dinglasan, Maria Mota, Jake Baum, Oliver Billker, Teun Bousema, Victoria McGovern, Ivo Mueller, Robert Sinden, Rogerio Amino, Quique Bassat, Matthew Bogyo, George Christophides, Kirk Deitsch, Abdoulaye Djimde, Manoj T. Duraisingh, Fraction Dzinjalamala, Christian Happi, Volker Heussler, jean Kramarik, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Marcus Lacerda, Miriam Laufer, Pharath Lim, Manuel Llinas, Jesus Martinez-Barnetche, Fredros Okumu, Jason Rasgon, Andrew Serazin, Pushkar Sharma, Dyann Wirth

(2011), Vol. 8, pp. 1-6, PLoS Medicine, San Francisco, Calif., C1-1


Protein export in Plasmodium parasites : from the endoplasmic reticulum to the vacuolar export machine

Prof Brendan Crabb, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Dr Paul Gilson

(2010), Vol. 40, pp. 509-513, International Journal for parasitology, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1


New insights into protein export in malaria parasites

Dr Silvia Haase, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward

(2010), Vol. 12, pp. 580-587, Cellular microbiology, London, England, C1


Immune-mediated mechanisms of parasite tissue sequestration during experimental cerebral malaria

Fiona H. Amante, Ashraful Haque, Amanda C. Stanley, Fabian de Labastida Rivera, Louise M. Randall, Yana A. Wilson, Gladys Yeo, Christian Pieper, Prof Brendan Crabb, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Rachel J. Lundie, Michael F. Good, Alberto Pinzon-Charry, Mark S. Pearson, Mary G. Duke, Donald P. McManus, Alex Loukas, Geoff R. Hill, Christian R. Engwerda

(2010), Vol. 185, pp. 3632-3642, Journal of immunology, Bethesda, Md., C1


The clp chaperones and proteases of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum

Majida El Bakkouri, Andre Pow, Anne Mulichak, Kevin L. Y. Cheung, Jennifer D. Artz, Mehrnazv Amani, Stuart Fell, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, C. Dean Goodman, Geoffrey McFadden, Joaquin Ortega, Raymond Hui, Walid A. Houry

(2010), Vol. 404, pp. 456-477, Journal of molecular biology, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1


An aspartyl protease directs malaria effector proteins to the host cell

Dr Justin Boddey, Anthony N. Hodder, Svenja Gunther, Dr Paul Gilson, Heather Patsiouras, Eugene A. Kapp, J. Andrew Pearce, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Richard J. Simpson, Prof Brendan Crabb, Prof Alan Cowman

(2010), Vol. 463, pp. 627-631, Nature, London, England, C1


Keeping it simple: an easy method for manipulating the expression levels of malaria proteins

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Dr Paul Gilson

(2009), Vol. 25, pp. 4-7, Trends in parasitology, London, England, C1-1


Molecular genetics and comparative genomics reveal RNAi is not functional in malaria parasites

Jake Baum, Anthony T. Papenfuss, Gunnar R. Mair, Chris J. Janse, Dina Vlachou, Andrew P. Waters, Prof Alan Cowman, Prof Brendan Crabb, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward

(2009), Vol. 37, pp. 3788-3798, Nucleic acids research advance access, Oxford, England, C1-1


A newly discovered protein export machine in malaria parasites

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Dr Paul Gilson, Dr Justin Boddey, Melanie Rug, Brian J Smith, Anthony T. Papenfuss, Paul R. Sanders, Rachel J. Lundie, Alexander G. Maier, Prof Alan Cowman, Prof Brendan Crabb

(2009), Vol. 459, pp. 945-950, Nature, London, England, C1-1


Truncation of Plasmodium berghei merozoite surface protein 8 does not affect in vivo blood-stage development

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Damien R. Drew, Joanne M. Chesson, Dr James Beeson, Prof Brendan Crabb

(2008), Vol. 159, pp. 69-72, Molecular and biochemical parasitology, Amsterdam, Netherlands, C1


Blood-stage Plasmodium infection induces CD8+ T lymphocytes to parasite-expressed antigens, largely regulated by CD8α+ dendritic cells

Rachel J. Lundie, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Gayle M. Davey, Catherine Q. Nie, Diana S. Hansen, Lei Shong Lau, Justine D Mintern, Gabrielle T. Belz, Louis Schofield, Francis R. Carbone, Jose A. Villadangos, Prof Brendan Crabb, William R. Heath

(2008), Vol. 105, pp. 14509-14514, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., C1


MSP119 miniproteins can serve as targets for invasion inhibitory antibodies in plasmodium falciparum provided they contain the correct domains for cell surface trafficking.

Dr Paul Gilson, Rebecca A. O'Donnell, Thomas Nebl, Paul R. Sanders, Mark E. Wickham, Terry F. McElwain, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Prof Brendan Crabb

(2008), Vol. 68, pp. 124-138, Molecular microbiology, Oxford, England, C1-1


Acquisition of invasion‐inhibitory antibodies specific for the 19‐kDa fragment of merozoite surface protein 1 in a transmigrant population requires multiple infections

E. Elsa Herdiana Murhandarwati, Casilda G. Black, Lina Wang, Simon Weisman, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, J. Kevin Baird, Emiliana Tjitra, Thomas L. Richie, Prof Brendan Crabb, Ross L. Coppel

(2008), Vol. 198, pp. 1212-1218, The journal of infectious diseases, Chicago, Ill., C1-1


The role of osmiophilic bodies and Pfg377 expression in female gametocyte emergence and mosquito infectivity in the human malaria parasite plasmodium falciparum

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Anna Olivieri, Lucia Bertuccini, Andrew Hood, Francesco Silvestrini, Konstantinos Charvalias, Pedro Berzosa Diaz, Grazia Camarda, Terry F. McElwain, Anthony T. Papenfuss, Julie Healer, Lucilla Baldassarri, Prof Brendan Crabb, Pietro Alano, Lisa C. Ranford-Cartwright

(2008), Vol. 67, pp. 278-290, Molecular microbiology, Oxford, England, C1-1


The importance of human FcyRI in mediating protection to malaria

Richard S. McIntosh, Jianguo Shi, Richard M. Jennings, Jonathan C. Chappel, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Tim Smith, Judith Green, Marjolein van Egmond, Jeanette H. W. Leusen, Maria Lazarou, Jan van de Winkel, Tarran S. Jones, Prof Brendan Crabb, Anthony A. Holder, Richard J. Pleass

(2007), Vol. 3, pp. 647-658, PLoS pathogens, San Francisco, CA, C1-1


Evidence for a common role for the serine-type Plasmodium falciparum serine repeat antigen proteases : implications for vaccine and drug design

Joanne E. McCoubrie, Susanne K. Miller, Tobias Sargeant, Robert T. Good, Anthony N. Hodder, Terence P. Speed, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Prof Brendan Crabb

(2007), Vol. 75, pp. 5565-5574, Infection and immunity, Washington, D.C., C1-1


Systemic activation of dendritic cells by toll-like receptor ligands or malaria infection impairs cross-presentation and antiviral immunity

Nicholas S. Wilson, Georg M. Behrens, Rachel J. Lundie, Christopher M Smith, Jason Waithman, Louise Young, Simon P. Forehan, Adele Mount, Raymond J. Steptoe, Ken D. Shortman, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Gabrielle T. Belz, Francis R. Carbone, Prof Brendan Crabb, William R. Heath, Jose A. Villadangos

(2006), Vol. 7, pp. 165-172, Nature immunology, New York, N. Y., C1-1


Tetracycline analogue-regulated transgene expression in plasmodium falciparum blood stages using toxoplasma gondii transactivators

Markus Meissner, Efrosinia Krejany, Dr Paul Gilson, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Dominique Soldati, Prof Brendan Crabb

(2005), Vol. 102, pp. 2980-2985, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., C1-1


Evidence that invasion-inhibitory antibodies specific for the 19-kDa fragment of Merozoite Surface Protein-1 (MSP-119) can play a protective role against blood-stage plasmodium falciparum infection in individuals in a malaria endemic area of Africa

Chandy C. John, Rebecca A. O'Donnell, Peter O. Sumba, Ann M. Moorman, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Christopher L. King, James W. Kazura, Prof Brendan Crabb

(2004), Vol. 173, pp. 666-672, Journal of immunology, Bethesda, Md., C1-1


A new rodent model to assess blood stage immunity to the plasmodium falciparum antigen merozoite surface protein 119 reveals a protective role for invasion inhibitory antibodies

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Rebecca A. O'Donnell, Damien R. Drew, Russell Thomson, Terence P. Speed, Prof Brendan Crabb

(2003), Vol. 198, pp. 869-875, The journal of experimental medicine, New York, N. Y., C1-1


CD1d-restricted NKT cells contribute to malarial splenomegaly and enhance parasite-specific antibody responses

Diana S. Hansen, Mary-Anne Siomos, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Lynn Buckingham, Prof Brendan Crabb, Louis Schofield

(2003), Vol. 33, pp. 2588-2598, European journal of immunology, Weinheim, Germany, C1-1



Australian Competitive Grants

Dissecting the contribution of malaria translocon components to pathogenesis

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward

NHMRC Project Grant

  • 2011: $100,444
  • 2010: $98,689
  • 2009: $127,450

Identification of the Plasmodium falciparum translocon that exports parasite proteins into their erythocytic hosts

Dr Paul Gilson, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Dr Justin Boddey

NHMRC Project Grant

  • 2010: $45,000

Dissection of protein export in Plasmodium

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward

NHMRC CDF - Career Development Fellowship

  • 2014: $113,863
  • 2013: $111,960
  • 2012: $109,980
  • 2011: $158,142

Functional dissection of the malaria protein export machinery

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Dr Paul Gilson

NHMRC Project Grant

  • 2015: $1,624
  • 2014: $142,475
  • 2013: $99,365
  • 2012: $25,601

Functional dissection of the malaria RhopH complex and its contribution to new permeation pathways

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Dr Paul Gilson

NHMRC Project Grant

  • 2017: $11,509
  • 2016: $114,296
  • 2015: $98,341

The structural resolution of PTEX, the translocon of virulence proteins and malaria parasites

Prof Brendan Crabb, A/Prof Travis Beddoe, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Dr Paul Gilson

NHMRC Project Grant

  • 2016: $54,346
  • 2015: $43,477
  • 2014: $32,608

Investigating why malaria parasites have a unique translocon

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Dr Paul Gilson

ARC - Discovery Projects

  • 2017: $24,251
  • 2016: $90,241

Breaking malaria's lethal grip: Targeting the assembly of an adhesive complex on infected red blood cells

Prof Leann Tilley, Dr Paul Gilson, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Dr Matthew Dixon

NHMRC Project Grant

  • 2016: $43,276
  • 2015: $47,507

Other Public Sector Funding

The role of host factors in viral pathogenesis

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Ms Katherine Birrer

  • 2012: $4,257
  • 2011: $10,092

Identification of novel protective malaria vaccine antigen candidate

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Miss Sreejoyee Ghosh

  • 2012: $90,000

Other Funding Sources

Collaborative High Bio-Containment immunological Research Facility

Prof Alister Ward, Dr Linfa Wang, A/Prof John Stambas, Dr John Lowenthal, Prof Ralph Tripp, Prof Bill Buttemer, Prof Johnson Mak, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward

  • 2012: $105,000
  • 2011: $100,000


Data will be available in 2017