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Azza Idris

Azza Idris, MD, PhD

Principal Investigator


Core Member

Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT, and Harvard

Attending Physician

Divisions of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Global Health, Mass Gen Hospital for Children (MGfC), Massachusetts General Hospital

Associate Professor

Harvard School of Medicine

Contact


Malaria Parasite Biology, Host Immune Responses and Translational Research

Research Overview

The Idris Lab aims to address the knowledge gaps surrounding the mechanisms that underly durable immunity against malaria. Malaria persists as a significant health burden in developing countries, particularly sub-Saharan Africa where young children and pregnant women are disproportionately affected. Despite improved public health measures such as rapid diagnostics, anti-malarial drugs and insecticides, efforts to control the disease have stalled due to the emergence of resistant parasites and mosquitoes.

With over 5000 genes, Plasmodium, the causative agent of malaria, is a unicellular parasite that has a complex multi-stage life cycle and poses daunting hurdles for both the host’s immune system and effective vaccine development. Our lab is interested in revealing the vulnerabilities of this parasite and gaining an understanding of its impact on the host immune response. Such valuable insights have led to the discovery of potent monoclonal antibodies that target the pre-erythrocytic stage of the parasite’s life cycle and prevent infection [1, 3-5].

To further these discoveries, our lab will interrogate naturally exposed and vaccinated human cohorts, while simultaneously leveraging in vitro and in vivo malaria models to study host immune responses and evaluate the efficacy of potential anti-malarial biologics. Through these approaches, we can uncover novel targets that correlate to protection bringing us steps closer to unlocking the blueprint for developing more effective antibodies and vaccines.

Recognition and Media

Dr. Idris has received the prestigious NIH Director’s Award for the past three consecutive years (2021 - 2023) in recognition of her exceptional contributions to the first-in-human trial of monoclonal antibodies to prevent malaria.

About

Dr. Azza Idris, a native of Sudan having witnessed first-hand the devastation of malaria, now leads her own lab at the Ragon in pursuit of eradicating this disease. She is also a pediatric consultant for the Divisions of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Global Health at Mass General Hospital for Children. Dr. Idris received her BSc in Biology from MIT before earning her dual MD/PhD degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Following her residency training in pediatrics at Emory University, she dedicated 8 years to general pediatric care before pursuing subspecialty training in pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s National Medical Center. Currently, Dr. Idris holds board certifications in General Pediatrics and Pediatric Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Idris completed her post-doctoral training at the National Institutes of Health where her research focused on developing innovative human monoclonal antibodies capable of providing protection against malaria. Later appointed Head of the Malaria Unit at the Vaccine Research Center, she led efforts in the discovery, development, and evaluation of antibodies and vaccines against malaria.

At the Ragon, Dr. Idris is dedicated to cultivating a lab atmosphere that not only encourages curiosity, scientific rigor, and inclusivity but also nurtures diverse collaborations to make a lasting global health impact.

Selected Publications

Cryo-EM Structures of Anti-Malarial Antibody L9 with Circumsporozoite Protein Reveal Trimeric L9 Association and Complete 27-Residue Epitope.

Tripathi P, Bender MF*, Lei H*, Pereira LDS*, Shen CH*, Bonilla B, Dillon M, Ou L, Pancera M, Wang LT, Zhang B, Batista FD, Idris AH*, Seder RA, Kwong PD.

Structure 2023; 31, 1-12.

Lower Dose Monoclonal Antibody by Subcutaneous Route for Malaria Prevention.

Wu RL, Idris AH, Berkowitz NM, Happe M, Gaudinski MR, Buettner C, Strom L, Awan SF, Holman LA, Mendoza F, Gordon IJ, Hu Z, Campos Chagas A, Wang LT, Pereira LDS, Francica JR, Kisalu NK, Flynn BJ, Shi W, Kong WP, O’Connell S, Plummer SH, Beck A, McDermott A, Narpala SR, Serebryannyy L, Castro M, Silva R, Imam M, Pittman I, Hickman SP, McDougal AJ, Lukoskie AE, Murphy JR, Gall JG, Carlton K, Morgan P, Seo E, Stein JA, Vazquez S, Telscher S, Capparelli EV, Coates EE, Mascola JR, Ledgerwood JE, Dropulic LK, Seder RA; VRC 614 Study Team.

N Engl J Med 2022; 387: 397-407.

Safety and Efficacy of a Monoclonal Antibody Against Malaria in Mali.

Kayentao K, Ongoiba A, Preston AC, Healy SA, Doumbo S, Doumtabe D, Traore A, Traore H, Djiguiba A, Li S, Peterson ME, Telscher S, Idris AH, Kisalu NK, Carlton K, Serebryannyy L, Narpala S, McDermott AB, Gaudinski M, Traore S, Cisse H, Keita M, Skinner J, Hu Z, Zeguime A, Ouattara A, Doucoure M, Dolo A, Djimde A, Traore B, Seder RA, Crompton PD; Mali Malaria mAb Trial Team.

N Engl J Med 2022; 387, 1833-42.

A Monoclonal Antibody for Malaria Prevention.

Gaudinski MR, Berkowitz NM*, Idris AH*, Coates EE, Holman LA, Mendoza F, Gordon IJ, Plummer SH, Trofymenko O, Hu Z, Campos Chagas A, O'Connell S, Basappa M, Douek N, Narpala SR, Barry CR, Widge AT, Hicks R, Awan SF, Wu RL, Hickman S, Wycuff D, Stein JA, Case C, Evans BP, Carlton K, Gall JG, Vazquez S, Flach B, Chen GL, Francica JR, Flynn BJ, Kisalu NK, Capparelli EV, McDermott A, Mascola JR, Ledgerwood JE, Seder RA; VRC 612 Study Team.

N Engl J Med 2021 Aug 26;385(9): 803-814.

Antibody Feedback Limits the Expansion of B Cell Responses to Malaria Vaccination but Drives Diversification of the Humoral Response.

McNamara HA, Idris AH, Sutton HJ, Vistein R, Flynn BJ, Cai Y, Wiehe K, Lyke KE, Chatterjee D, Kc N, Chakravarty S, Lee Sim BK, Hoffman SL, Bonsignori M, Seder RA, Cockburn IA.

Cell Host Microbe 2020 Oct 7;28(4): 572-585.e7.

A Human Monoclonal Antibody Prevents Malaria Infection by Targeting a New Site of Vulnerability on the Parasite.

Kisalu NK*, Idris AH*, Weidle C, Flores-Garcia Y, Flynn BJ, Sack BK, Murphy S, Schon A, Freire E, Francica JR, Miller AB, Gregory J, March S, Liao XH, Haynes BF, Wiehe K, Trama AM, Saunders KO, Gladden MA, Monroe A, Bonsignori M, Kanekiyo M, Wheatley AK, McDermott AB, Farney SK, Chuang GY, Zhang B, KC N, Chakravarty S, Kwong PD, Sinnis P, Bhatia SN, Kappe SHI, Sim KL, Hoffman SL, Zavala F, Pancera M*, Seder RA*.

Nature Medicine 2018; 24: 406-418.

Lab Team

Justine Alexander

Research Technologist

Joselyn Natasha Allen

Program Manager

Robert Sifa Onjiko

Research Technician I

Simone Adrienne Wall

Graduate Student