Denise Doolan is a Professorial Research Fellow (Immunology of Infectious Diseases) in the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University (Cairns, Campus). She completed her B.Sc (Hons, Biochemistry) at the University of Queensland; M.Phil (Life Sciences) at Griffith University/CSIRO; and PhD (Molecular Immunology, 1993) under the supervision of Michael Good at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research. She was awarded a National Academy of Sciences Postdoctoral Fellowship to work at the United States Naval Medical Research Center with Stephen Hoffman on malaria vaccine development. After appointments as Director of Basic and Preclinical Research & Development and then Scientific Director of the US Navy Malaria Program, she returned to Australia in 2007. She established the Molecular Vaccinology Laboratory at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, with the support of a Pfizer Australia Senior Research Fellowship, followed by a NHMRC Principal Research Fellowship. She was appointed as Coordinator of the QIMR Biology Department; Member of the QIMR Director’s Consultative Committee / Management Advisory Committee; and Adjunct Professor in the University of Queensland School of Medicine. She also served on the Executive Board of the Australian Society of Parasitology for 4 years (President for 2 years). She relocated to the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University (Cairns Campus) in January 2016.


Denise is a molecular immunologist. Her research focuses on developing novel immunotherapeutics and immunodiagnostics for complex pathogens that cause chronic diseases, using malaria as a model. Much of her career has focused on malaria immunology and vaccine development. Most recently, she is moving into the area that intersects infectious and chronic disease.Her research agenda encompasses core themes of (1) host-pathogen immunity, (2) antigen discovery, (3) vaccine engineering, and (4) biomarker discovery, using state-of-the-art genome-based technologies and human models of disease. A particular focus is systems immunology, which integrates immunology with cutting-edge omics-based technologies, bioinformatics and computational sciences to interrogate the human immune response to infection at a level of detail previously restricted to mouse models. She has strong expertise in the process of vaccine development, spanning the complete vaccine development pipeline from discovery to clinical testing, including regulatory aspects and IND applications. She has also played a leading role internationally in driving the development and application of approaches to identify priority target antigens, molecules and immune mechanisms that can be targeted for intervention against malaria. Although her primary focus has been malaria, many of the technologies and strategies established for malaria can be applied to a range of public health threats. 

Denise is passionate about improving the health of the millions of people worldwide suffering from infectious and chronic diseases.

 Click on your right for Denise's most updated publications link to ORCID or Research Gate.


James Cook University TM5525 Communicable Disease Control (2017, 2018, 2019)

 Infectious diseases are the consequence of complex interactions between microbiological agents (pathogens), physical and social environments, and human hosts. This subject examines how controlling communicable disease of public health importance requires a wide variety of strategies to address these interactions. Deals with the principles and practice of public health surveillance, disease outbreak recognition and responses, immunisation, and a variety of other disease control strategies relevant to Australia as well as to many low- and middle-income countries.

 James Cook University MD3011 Introduction to Clinical Healthcare (2017)

This subject continues the study of integrated medical and social sciences for the whole human body. Students will continue to develop their knowledge and understanding of molecular, cellular, organ, individual person, health system and societal influences on human health, integrated around themes within tissue injury and neoplasia, infection and immunology and preventive medicine and addictive behaviours.

 James Cook University Masters of Parasitology course (2016)



  • Vaccine development
  • Malaria
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Chronic Diseases
  • Systems immunology
  • Immunotherapeutics
  • Immunodiagnostics
  • 2018 to present - Deputy Director, Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University (Townsville/Cairns/Singapore)
  • 2018 to present - Director, Centre for Molecular Therapeutics (James Cook University, QLD, Australia)
  • 2016 to present - Professor, James Cook University (Cairns, QLD)
  • 2016 to present - Visiting Scientist, Queensland Institute of Medical Research (Brisbane, QLD)
  • 2008 to present - Adjunct Professor, University of Queensland (Brisbane, QLD)
  • 2017 to 2018 - Director, Centre for Biosecurity and Tropical Infectious Diseases (James Cook University, QLD, Australia)
  • 2016 to 2017 - Co-director, Centre for Biosecurity and Tropical Infectious Diseases, James Cook University (Cairns, QLD)
  • 2011 to 2015 - Coordinator, Department of Biology, Queensland Institute of Medical Research (Brisbane, QLD)
  • 2007 to 2015 - Group Leader, Queensland Institute of Medical Research (Brisbane, QLD)
  • 2006 - Scientific Director, Naval Medical Research Center (Silver Spring, USA)
  • 2001 to 2005 - Director, Basic and Preclinical Research & Development, Malaria Program, Naval Medical Research Center (Silver Spring, USA)
  • 1999 to 2001 - Director, Basic Research, Malaria Program, Naval Medical Research Center (Silver Spring, USA)
  • 1998 - Senior Research Officer, Queensland Institute of Medical Research (Brisbane, QLD)
  • 1993 to 1997 - National Academy of Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow, Naval Medical Research Center (Rockville, USA)
  • 1989 to 1993 - PhD student, University of Queensland (Brisbane, QLD)
  • 1986 to 1988 - Experimental Scientist, CSIRO Division of Tropical Animal Production (LongPocket, QLD)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2016 - Bancroft-Mackerras Medal for Excellence (Australian Society for Parasitology)
  • 2005 - STAR Award, US Army (Medical Research and Materiel Command)
  • 2005 - Young Investigator (runner-up), American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene
  • 2001 - Letter of Appreciation, US Navy
  • 1997 - Letter of Commendation, US Navy (Surgeon General)
  • 2019 - Fellow, Australian Society for Parasitology
  • 2018 - National Health and Medical Research Council Principal Research Fellowship
  • 2017 - Fellow, International Society for Vaccines
  • 1998 - NHMRC RD Wright Biomedical Career Development Fellowship
  • 1997 - University of Queensland Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2012 to 2016 - NHMRC Principal Research Fellowship
  • 2008 to 2012 - Pfizer Australia Senior Research Fellowship
  • 1993 to 1996 - National Academy of Sciences (National Research Council) Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 1990 to 1992 - NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarship
  • 2015 - Executive Board, International Society for Vaccines
  • 2016 to 2017 - Management Advisory Committee, Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University
  • 2011 to 2015 - Australian Infectious Diseases Research Centre Management Committee
  • 2011 to 2015 - Management Advisory Committee (Director’s Consultative Committee), QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
  • 2010 to 2015 - Scientific Advisory Board, Australia-Europe Malaria Research Cooperation
  • 2012 to 2014 - Research Advisory Committee, Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute
  • 2010 to 2014 - Executive Board, Australian Society for Parasitology
  • 2011 to 2013 - President, Australian Society for Parasitology
  • 2009 to 2013 - Scientific Advisory Board, Queensland-USA Vaccine Alliance
  • 2004 to 2006 - Assistant Research Coordinator, Scientific Steering Committee for the Military Infectious Diseases Research Program (MIRDP) Science and Technology Evaluation Plan F, Malaria Vaccines
  • 1999 to 2006 - Member, Scientific Steering Committee for the Military Infectious Diseases Research Program (MIRDP) Science and Technology Evaluation Plan F, Malaria Vaccines
  • 2004 to 2005 - Research Coordinator, Scientific Steering Committee for the Military Infectious Diseases Research Program (MIRDP) Science and Technology Evaluation Plan C, Malaria Genome
  • 1999 to 2005 - Member, Scientific Steering Committee for the Military Infectious Diseases Research Program (MIRDP) Science and Technology Evaluation Plan C, Malaria Genome
  • 2000 to 2004 - Assistant Research Coordinator, Scientific Steering Committee for the Military Infectious Diseases Research Program (MIRDP) Science and Technology Evaluation Plan C, Malaria Genome
  • 2018 - JCU nominee for the Medical and Health Sciences (MHS) panel for the ARC’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2018 round
  • 2017 - Editorial Board, Clinical and Translational Immunology
  • 2016 - Editorial Board, NPG Vaccines
  • 2015 - Editorial Board, International Journal of Parasitology
  • 2015 - Chief Editor, Frontiers in Immunology: Vaccines and Molecular Immunotherapeutics
  • 2014 to 2016 - Editorial Board, Scientific Reports
  • 2009 to 2013 - Editorial Board, Experimental Parasitology

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 176+ research outputs authored by Prof Denise Doolan from 1991 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

National Institute of Health - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Development of a T cell based vaccine against malaria from proteome-wide T cell screening

Indicative Funding
$2,445,413 over 5 years
This proposal is targeting the development of a malaria vaccine that induced robust and protective T cell responses against the liver stage of the Plasmodium parasite. From the complete P. falciparum pre-erythrocytic (sporozoite/liver) stage proteome, we will identify, characterize, and credential priority antigens discovered by proteome-based T cell screening; and will progress protective antigens through preclinical development to provide a vaccine candidate capable of inducing robust and sustained protective immunity against malaria.
Denise Doolan, David Pattinson, Carla Proietti, Gavin Painter, Ian Hermans, William R Heath, Matthew McCall and Stephen Hoffman (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, Victoria University of Wellington, Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, University of Melbourne, Radboud University Medical Center and Sanaria)
Malaria Vaccines; T cell; Antigen Discovery; Preclinical development

National Foundation for Medical Research and Innovation - Portfolio 2 Research Grant

Development of a T cell malaria vaccine

Indicative Funding
$290,000 over 2 years
This application seeks to enhance the preclinical package to translate novel Plasmodium falciparum T cell reactive antigens discovered from rational genome-based screening towards clinical testing, to deliver a multi-antigen T-cell based vaccine for malaria ready for clinical trials.
Denise Doolan, Carla Proietti, David Pattinson and Maggie Veitch (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine)
vaccine; Malaria; T cell; vaccine design

Australian Research Council - Linkage - Infrastructure (L-IEF)

Enhancing Australian biodiscovery molecule generation, storage and access.

Indicative Funding
$62,392 over 1 year (administered by Griffith University)
The project aims to establish the Australian Biodiscovery Network with the following integrated infrastructure: sample processing robotics and storage to enhance national biomolecule curation and access at Compounds Australia and automated LC/MS to increase natural product extraction at NatureBank at Griffith Uni; a robotic colony picker to expand the Uni Queensland Microbes Australia library; a protein purification system to facilitate pathogen biologic discovery at James Cook Uni; live cell imaging to enable biodiscovery for aquaculture at Uni Sunshine Coast. This infrastructure will enhance biodiscovery capacity of QLD universities and benefit hundreds of researchers nationally across health, aquaculture, agriculture and food security.
Katherine Andrews, Robert Capon, Alex Loukas, Scott Cummins, Rohan Davis, Ian Henderson, Denise Doolan, Abigail Elizur, Sally-Ann Poulsen, Mark Blaskovich, Tianfang Wang, Yun Jiang Feng, Philip Hugenholtz and Zeinab Khalil (Griffith University, The University of Queensland, Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine and University of the Sunshine Coast)
Biodiscovery; Infrastructure; Biology; Chemistry; Integrated; Molecules

Australian Research Council - Linkage - Infrastructure (L-IEF)

Single cell sequencing facility at James Cook University

Indicative Funding
$234,438 over 1 year
Single cell sequencing (SCS) is revolutionising the life sciences and is essential in enabling JCU to maintain its leadership position in aquaculture, coral reef studies and tropical health. SCS is a central component of ongoing projects at JCU, a number of which are supported by the ARC. The current state of SCS technology dictates that the cell sorting and library preparation component be done locally. At present, the closest such facility is located in Brisbane (1300 km from Townsville by road), which means that not only is life sciences research at JCU severely handicapped by the lack of access to the equipment requested here, but the same is true of all Australian institutions north of the 27th parallel (Brisbane)
David Miller, Denise Doolan, Dean Jerry, Jan Strugnell and David Whitmore (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine and College of Science & Engineering)
aquaculture; Single cell sequencing; immunology; Coral Reefs; Transcriptomics; Microbiology

Skyrail Rainforest Foundation - Research Funding

The future of urban roosts of the Spectacled Flying-fox in North Queensland

Indicative Funding
$4,109 over 1 year
In partnership with Cairns Council and Bat & Tree Society, I have collected data on bat temperatures and microclimate at 20 urban roosts, including the two remnant forests. I have undertaken field surveys of vegetation structure, but these methods may not accurately estimate the top down perspective of canopy organisms. Hence, the next step is to estimate the three dimensional space of bat roosts. Using terrestrial laser scanning (TLS), I will quantify the volume of vegetation at different heights and correlate with microclimate conditions in order to rank the thermal insulation of roost sites to protect bats during heatwaves.
Camila Madeira Tavares Lopes, Susan Laurance, Denise Doolan and Cadhla Firth (College of Science & Engineering, Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine and EcoHealth Alliance)
Spectacled Flying-fox (Pteropodidae); Roost preference; Microclimate

Queensland Health - Contract Research

QoVAX SET Testing and Biobank Project ? North Queensland

Indicative Funding
The QoVAX SET (Queensland COVID-19 Vaccination Safety and Efficacy Trial) program is a population-based study of COVID-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness, providing a resource for studies to understand how the immune system responds to the COVID-19 vaccines, and what factors might affect vaccine response. Though this contract, JCU is supporting the North Queensland arm of this program - QoVAX Program participants recruited in Cairns.
Denise Doolan and Maggie Veitch in collaboration with Jamie Brady (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Systems immunology; Prediction; Molecular immunology; Precision medicine; Computational science; Immune protection

National Health & Medical Research Council - Research Fellowship

System-based approaches to inform the design of vaccines and biologics against complex pathogens

Indicative Funding
$849,540 over 5 years
The development of effective interventions against malaria and other chronic infectious diseases is impeded by a lack of understanding of host-pathogen interactions and the mechanisms and antigenic targets underlying protective immunity. The fundamental premise of this proposal is that integrated and unbiased systems-level approaches provide an excellent framework to develop a comprehensive understanding of immune responses and identify key molecules/pathways that can be targeted for therapeutic intervention or for immunodiagnostics. Taking advantage of unique human experimental infection models and field studies, this research encompasses: (i) antigen discovery; (ii) host-pathogen immunity; (iii) vaccine engineering; and (iv) biomarker discovery. It will develop a pipeline of parasite antigens and immunomodulatory molecules that can be transitioned towards clinical development and testing, as well as identify biomarkers of disease risk that can be used for population based screening to define at-risk individuals for targeted intervention.
Denise Doolan (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Biomarker discovery

National Health & Medical Research Council - Program

Tropical diseases: Translating discoveries into better health

Indicative Funding
$4,400,810 over 5 years (administered by University of Melbourne)
Our overall working hypotheses are: 1. The rational design of tropical disease vaccines and other therapeutics requires improved understanding of immunology, host-parasite interactions and application of innovative bioengineering. 2.Improved interventions will be required to eliminate tropical infectious diseases. Our Specific Aims are: 1. Discover pathogenic and immune mechanisms, protective antigens, biomarkers and therapeutic targets for the control of tropical infectious diseases. 2. Develop new vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. 3. Optimise human pathogen challenge models to study host-pathogen interactions and test new vaccines and therapeutics. 4. Develop and test new clinical and public health interventions in disease-endemic settings.
James McCarthy, Nicholas Anstey, Denise Doolan, Chris Engwerda, Michael Good, Alex Loukas, Donald McManus, Richard Price and Istvan Toth (University of Melbourne, Menzies Research Institute, Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, QIMR Berghofer, Griffith University, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Menzies School of Health Research and The University of Queensland)
Malaria; Vaccine; Diagnostic; Protein; Therapeutic; Immunomodulatory

NIH National Cancer Institute - Contract Research

Discovery of novel biomarkers for Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) infection related cancers - HL and NK/T lymphomas

Indicative Funding
$74,997 over 2 years (administered by Westat)
There is a large body of evidence indicating that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) actively contributes to the pathogenesis of multiple tumours. We hypothesize that the antibody response to EBV is altered in infection-related cancers. We are comprehensively assessing the antibody response to EBV in individuals with and without cancer (cases and controls) using our proprietary EBV proteome array, to identify an antibody signature which predicts cancer risk. The ultimate goal is an immunodiagnostic test to identify individuals in the general population who are at high risk of developing infection-related cancers. Extending previous studies, we will probe defined samples from Hodgkin Lymphoma and NK/T cell study provided by colleageus at NIH/NCI to define IgA and IgG antibody repertoires.
Denise Doolan in collaboration with Allan Hildesheim, Zhiwei Liu, Yomani Sarathkumara and Carla Proietti (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine and NIH National Cancer Institute)
EBV infection-related cancer

Australian Research Council - Linkage - Infrastructure (L-IEF)

An integrated, multi-model bio-layer interferometry facility

Indicative Funding
$945,000 over 1 year (administered by The University of Queensland)
Biomolecular interaction research in Australia is currently constrained by low-throughput, labour intensive techniques that impede research progress and often forces it overseas. This project aims to develop a world class, integrated, multi-node bio-layer interferometry facility. This project expects to generate new knowledge in diverse areas of research ranging from biodiscovery to agricultural vaccine technology. Using biolayer interferometry, the leading-edge biomolecular interaction technique will provide significant benefits by developing high-significant assay techniques, thus enabling diverse streams of national benefit research and propelling Australia to the forefront of biomolecular interaction research.
Brian Fry, Godwin Ayoko, Brett Collins, Scott Cummins, Norelle Daly, Denise Doolan, Luke Guddat, Emad Kiriakous, Alex Loukas, Stephen Mahler, John Miles, Bernd Rehm, Tomer Ventura, Irina Vetter and Wang Tianfang (The University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine and Griffith University)
Protein Interactions; interferometry; Therapeutics

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Airway Resident Memory T Cell Development and Persistence: The Key to Induction of Sterile Immunity against Pulmonary Tuberculosis? (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Knowledge and Attitudes to Reproductive Technology among Aboriginal Families who are at risk of Machado-Joseph Disease (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • The effects of rainforest fragmentation on parasite infections in terrestrial mammals (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Immunodominance in a Complex Host-Pathogen System (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Adapt or perish: defining malaria vector behaviours in a changing world (PhD , Advisor Mentor)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

Connect with me
Share my profile
Share my profile:

  • E5.110, AITHM Cairns (Cairns campus)
Advisory Accreditation
Advisor Mentor
Find me on…
Icon for ResearchGate profile Icon for ResearcherID page Icon for LinkedIn profile page Icon for Google Scholar profile Icon for ORCID profile Icon for external homepage Icon for Scopus Author page

Similar to me

  1. Dr Martha Cooper
    Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine
  2. A/Prof Andreas Kupz
    Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine
  3. Prof Tom Burkot
    Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine
  4. Dr Ana Maria Valencia Hernandez
    Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine
  5. Prof Andreas Lopata
    Biomedical Sciences and Molecular Biology