Dr. Elena A. Levashina held the position of CNRS research director at the Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire in Strasbourg, France, where she led a CNRS-INSERM team: “Post genomic analysis of the mosquito immune responses to Plasmodium parasites”. The work of Elena A. Levashina and her group on the mosquito immune responses was recognised by a number of scientific awards and fellowships. From 2005 to 2010 she was selected as an International Research Scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and in 2010 she was elected an EMBO member. She is a laureate of the INSERM Research Prize (2008) and of the Jaffe Prize of the French Academy of Sciences (2011).

The research unit of Dr. Elena A. Levashina explores the role of the mosquito immune system in regulating the development of malaria parasites. Anopheles mosquitoes are among the major killers on Earth because they transmit malaria to humans. Here at the MPIIB, the unit investigates the ecological aspects that drive evolution of mosquito responses to a wide range of pathogens including bacteria and fungi, and the trade off between immunity and reproduction.

The major interests of the unit are on ecological and evolutionary aspects of the Anopheles mosquito immune system in relation to malaria transmission. To answer these questions, the unit develops projects within the following topics: a) molecular mechanisms of mosquito immune responses; b) interactions between immune responses and mosquito physiology; and c) mosquito interactions with Plasmodium parasites and other microbes - both external and internally acquired during their life cycle.

All together, the developed knowledge should provide new concepts for better understanding host – pathogen interactions and, ultimately, inform novel intervention strategies in the fight against vector-borne diseases.

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