Molecular Parasitology

Professor Don McManus
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Don McManus

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Professor Donald P. McManus, Head of Molecular Parasitology Laboratory

I am a NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow and Senior Principal Research Fellow at QIMR, Professor of Tropical Health, University of Queensland and Professor, Griffith University. I completed my PhD in 1973 at the University of Wales, UK and was awarded a DSc in 1996.

My research investigates schistosomiasis and echinococcosis, two of the major parasitic diseases, the cause of much suffering and economic loss and the most insidious and persistent of the helminth zoonoses. My scientific aim is to develop new public health interventions, including vaccines, and novel diagnostic procedures against these diseases and the causative pathogens that will lead to their elimination. I am internationally recognised for my work on these two diseases, the field of molecular parasitology in general, and in international and tropical population health. I have pioneered vaccine development for schistosomiasis, publishing a number of key articles in high impact journals on the development of a transmission blocking vaccine for use in China. I have published close to 100 papers on my population health work on schistosomiasis and echinococcosis, a number of which are transformational, shaping policy and practice leading to improved treatment and control of these diseases in China, and with wide-scale application for informing government agencies on control options in other parasite-endemic communities including Africa.

I was a key and founding member of the Sequencing Consortium which in 2009 published the landmark, complete genome of Schistosoma japonicum as a cover article in Nature. I have received continual funding from NHMRC since my move to Australia from Imperial College, London in 1989. I currently hold (CIA) a 5 year project and I am CI of a current program grant from NHMRC, renewed for the period 2013-1017. Internationally, I have attracted large-scale grants from the MacArthur Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, WHO/TDR, Wellcome Trust, Dana Foundation and NIH. My research grant income in the past 5 years exceeded $.7.5 million. I have been invited to present/chair over 60 national/international meetings in the past 15 years, and I have published 454 articles (398 refereed research publications; 29 Reviews; 2 books/26 book chapters), many in the highest impact Parasitology and Tropical Medicine journals, notably PLoSNTDs, the foremost journal in the area of Tropical Medicine. Many are groundbreaking in the field, have consumed years of work, provide a path to the future, and a number have been highly cited. As well, a significant number of my key articles have appeared in more general journals including Nature, Nature Genetics, Nature Medicine, Biochemistry, Clinical Microbiology Reviews, Infection and Immunity, Biochemica et Biophysica Acta, Molecular and Biological Evolution, Biochemical Journal, PLoSONE, Gene, Lancet, Lancet Infectious Diseases, New England Journal of Medicine, PLoS Pathogens and Journal of Immunology. My career h-index is 52 (Web of Science/Google Scholar) and I have been cited on over 7,500 occasions.

I have been co-CI on three NIH funded Tropical Medicine Research Centres based in Manila and the Institute of Parasitic Diseases, Shanghai. In recent years I have extended my collaborations to working with other institutes in China, Vietnam and the Philippines. He also collaborates with colleagues in Australia, USA, UK, Europe and Latin and South America. I have acted as commercial advisor to PANBIO Ltd (Brisbane) for improved tests for serodiagnosis of infectious diseases. I am in partnership with Impfstoffwerk Dessau-Fornau, Germany for the development of vaccines effective in carnivore hosts against Echinococcus spp. I hold 3 commercial patents. I am an Editorial Board member of 13 journals (ex Board member of two others). I am a Board Member of the RNAS (schistosomiasis) and WHO Steering Committees on Schistosomiasis, and Zoonoses and Marginalized Infectious Diseases of Poverty. I have mentored over 40 post-docs, 27 post-graduate scholars and 15 honours students at QIMR. Two students received the Australian Society for Parasitology Sprent Prize for best PhD thesis. Many of my former students/post-docs have senior positions in academia or in industry. My post-docs have received training awards from NHMRC (4), NHMRC CDA awards (2), a Fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and an ARC Future Fellowship.

I advise various authorities in Asia and the WHO on health issues impacted by schistosomiasis and other helminthiases and provides advice to Ministries of Health on control options for these diseases. I am regularly interviewed by Radio and Print journalists and visit local community groups, schools and colleges emphasising the importance of medical research to the community. I have participated in several reviews of institutes, research schools and departments in Australia and in the region. I am called upon to offer expert opinion on PhD theses from Australian and overseas Universities. I assess grants submitted to various agencies and I am regularly consulted to offer advice on helminth parasitic diseases to other researchers, clinicians and the general public. I act as research advisor to a number of overseas institutions and offer expert opinion on candidates for promotion to full Professor at regional universities. I am also local Queensland Secretary of the Royal Society for Tropical Medicine.

I was conferred with honorary membership of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, in 2010, in recognition of "outstanding accomplishments to tropical medicine". I was successful in 2010 in my initial application to the NHMRC RF Scheme at the level of SPRF (+ SEO funded).