Profile image of Tania De Koning-Ward

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward

STAFF PROFILE

Position

Professor

Faculty

Faculty of Health

Department

School of Medicine

Campus

Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus

Qualifications

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

Contact

Biography

Tania de Koning-Ward is a Professor in Molecular Microbiology and an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow within the School of Medicine and the Institute for Mental Health and Clinical Translation. She is currently the leader of the Infection, Immunity and Cancer Theme at IMPACT and she also heads a vibrant research team of postdocs, research assistants, PhD and Honours students in understanding the molecular basis of malaria.

Prof de Koning-Ward obtained her PhD from the University of Melbourne in 1996 and after two postdoctoral stints at Leiden University in The Netherlands, and at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne as a Howard Florey Repatriation Fellow, she established her own research group within the School of Medicine in 2008 just as the School was opening its doors to its first intake of medical students.

Read more on Tania's profile

Career highlights

• NHMRC Howard Florey Centenary Fellowship (2000-2001)
• Deakin University Award for Research Excellence (2010)
• NHMRC Research Excellence Award (2010)
• NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (2011)
• Commonwealth Health Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Health and Medical       Research (2011)
• Smart Geelong Network Biotechnology Award (2012)
• Smart Geelong Network Researcher of the Year Award (Highly Commended) (2012)
• Deakin University Health Faculty Award for Innovation in Teaching (2012)
• NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship (2018-2022)

Research interests

Malaria is one of the world’s most devastating human health problems, give rise to ~229 million cases each year, ~409,000 of which will be fatal. Unfortunately, there is no highly efficacious licenced malaria vaccine and resistance to currently available anti-malaria drugs is widespread. Thus, there is a desperate need to identify new intervention strategies to reduce the global malaria parasite burden.

Prof de Koning-Ward’s research program aims to investigate a molecular level, key parasite-host interactions that enable malaria parasites to thrive and survive in their host and cause disease. She utilises both human and rodent malaria transgenesis systems to genetically modify malaria genes to dissect gene function. 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 model of malaria infection. By understanding the key mechanisms by which parasites are able to survive within their host and cause disease, her research aims 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 Prof de Koning-Ward.

Teaching interests

Professor de Koning-Ward joined the School of Medicine at Deakin University when it was opening its doors to its first intake of medical students. For several years she coordinated the Infection, Defence and Repair Unit for 1st year medical students. She developed the School of Medicine’s Honours Course and more recently the Masters of Philosophy Program for which she is currently the Course Director.

Knowledge areas

Infectious diseases, microbiology, parasitology, immunology, molecular biology, cellular biology, biochemistry, functional genomics, genetic engineering, pathogenesis, virulence, animal models of disease, host-pathogen interaction

Projects

Malaria is one of the world’s most devastating human health problems, give rise to ~229 million cases each year, ~409,000 of which will be fatal. Unfortunately, there is no highly efficacious licenced malaria vaccine and resistance to currently available anti-malaria drugs is widespread. Thus, there is a desperate need to identify new intervention strategies to reduce the global malaria parasite burden.

Prof de Koning-Ward’s research program aims to investigate a molecular level, key parasite-host interactions that enable malaria parasites to thrive and survive in their host and cause disease. She utilises both human and rodent malaria transgenesis systems to genetically modify malaria genes to dissect gene function. 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 model of malaria infection. By understanding the key mechanisms by which parasites are able to survive within their host and cause disease, her research aims 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 Prof de Koning-Ward. 


• Understanding how malaria parasites remodel the host cells in which they reside
• Dissecting how malaria parasites obtain nutrients essential to their survival
• Dissecting host proteins that contribute to malaria pathogenesis
• Characterising the role of malaria aminopeptidases in hemoglobin digestion
• Dissecting how malaria parasites traffic diverse proteins to distinct cellular locations
• Screening for drugs that target malaria parasites and delineating their mode of action

Publications

No publications found

Funded Projects at Deakin

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

  • 2018: $35,534
  • 2017: $135,283
  • 2016: $92,219
  • 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

  • 2018: $127,980
  • 2017: $121,255
  • 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

  • 2017: $43,276
  • 2016: $43,276
  • 2015: $47,507

Interaction of malaria parasites with their host

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward

NHMRC - Research Fellowship

  • 2022: $136,988
  • 2021: $135,497
  • 2020: $133,627
  • 2019: $131,782
  • 2018: $129,834

The role of novel and essential bromodomain proteins in coordinating malaria parasite gene regulation and their potential as anti-malarial targets

Dr Michael Duffy, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Prof Stefan Knapp

NHMRC Project Grant

  • 2019: $48,000
  • 2018: $50,000
  • 2017: $50,000

Functional resolution of PTEX, the exporter of virulence factors in malaria parasites.

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

NHMRC Project Grant

  • 2020: $39,700
  • 2019: $39,700
  • 2018: $39,700
  • 2017: $39,700

Role of plasmepsin V and PTEX complex in Plasmodium liver infection

Dr Justin Boddey, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Dr Kelly Rogers, Prof Norman Kneteman

NHMRC Project Grant

  • 2020: $59,836
  • 2019: $47,869
  • 2018: $35,901

Deciphering the molecular constituents, assembly and structure of the Plasmodium new permeability pathways

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Dr Natalie Counihan, Dr Joyanta Modak, Dr Rowena Martin

NHMRC - Ideas Grant

  • 2023: $126,871
  • 2022: $249,502
  • 2021: $241,646
  • 2020: $133,452

Multidisciplinary catalyst to discover and progress novel antimalarial drugs

Prof Susan Charman, Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Dr Paul Gilson

NHMRC Synergy Grants

  • 2024: $41,666
  • 2023: $166,666
  • 2022: $166,666
  • 2021: $166,666
  • 2020: $166,666

Other Public Sector Funding

The role of host factors in viral pathogenesis

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Ms Katherine Birrer

CSIRO Livestock Industries - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

  • 2012: $4,257
  • 2011: $3,092

Identification of novel protective malaria vaccine antigen candidate

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Ms Sreejoyee Ghosh

Victoria India Doctoral Scholarships

  • 2012: $90,000

Targeting site specific improvements of clinical trial operational processes - Ethan Pitman internship

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Mr Ethan Pitman

Ballarat Health Services

  • 2022: $30,000

Industry and Other Funding

VCCC SKILLED Internship Program

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Miss Christina Dizdarevic, Ms Krystle Wilson

VCCC Alliance Ltd

  • 2024: $14,300

Other Funding Sources

Collaborative High Bio-Containment immunological Research Facility

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

ARC LIEF - Linkage Infrastructure Equipment & Facilities Program, CSIRO Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

  • 2012: $105,000
  • 2011: $100,000

The role of host factors in viral pathogenesis

Prof Tania De Koning-Ward, Ms Katherine Birrer

Poultry CRC

  • 2011: $7,000

Supervisions

Principal Supervisor
2023

Rebecca Edgar

Thesis entitled: Characterising the aminopeptidases of Plasmodium falciparum as potential drug targets

Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine), School of Medicine

2022

Ethan Pitman

Thesis entitled: Dissection of the assembly and operation of the Plasmodium export machinery

Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine), School of Medicine

2021

Madeline Grace Dans

Thesis entitled: Identifying Inhibitors that Target Egress and Invasion of Plasmodium falciparum

Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine), School of Medicine

Mikha Gabriela

Thesis entitled: Molecular mechanism of cargo recognition by the Plasmodium translocon of exported proteins

Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine), School of Medicine

2019

Rebecca Edgar

Thesis entitled: Starving the Malaria Parasite

Master of Philosophy (Medicine), School of Medicine

2017

Asha Latha Lakkavaram

Thesis entitled: Dissecting the mechanism of severe malaria

Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine), School of Medicine

2016

Scott Chisholm

Thesis entitled: Characterisation of PTEX88, a component of the Plasmodium translocon

Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine), School of Medicine

Sreejoyee Ghosh

Thesis entitled: Dissecting the function of essential rhoptry genes of the malaria parasite

Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine), School of Medicine

2015

Kathryn Mifsud

Thesis entitled: PTEX characterisation and its role in Plasmodium virulence and survival

Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine), School of Medicine

2013

Ming Tsung Lee

Thesis entitled: Cost and Utilisation of Physical Therapies in Taiwan

Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine), School of Medicine

2012

Katherine Birrer

Thesis entitled: Silencing Host Genes Using RNAi to Impact Virus Growth in vitro Methods for reducing cotton wax.

MAppSc (Medicine) (High cost), School of Medicine

Associate Supervisor
2023

Raj Sanjiv Khatri

Thesis entitled: Role of mucin 1 in Malaria-Associated Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Master of Philosophy (Medicine), School of Medicine

2021

Shasha Zhao

Thesis entitled: The Role of miRNAs in Influenza Virus Pathogenesis and Immunity

Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine), School of Medicine

2018

Saeed Mahmoudimeimand

Thesis entitled: Control of cytokine receptor signalling by CISH

Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine), School of Medicine

2016

Hanumantsingh Tanwar

Thesis entitled: Regulation of HIV Gag conformation and complex formation

Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine), School of Medicine

2013

Kate Goossens

Thesis entitled: Comparative analysis of type III interferon receptor and interferon-stimulated genes

Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine), School of Medicine