Ulf Ribacke Project

Our current research centers on increasing the understanding of host-parasite interaction and adaptation of importance for the pathobiology of parasitic infections.

Molecular infection biology of parasite-host interaction and adaptation

Parasitic diseases constitute a tremendous burden with enormous public health, social and economic impacts world-wide. Central obstacles to efficient combatting of these diseases are the parasites remarkable ability to rapidly adapt to changes, including therapeutic efforts, within the human host. Understanding how this adaptation is brought about is vital for continued attempts to eliminate and eradicate these diseases.

We mainly work on the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which is one of the most important human pathogens in the world but also on the explosive diarrhea causing Giardia intestinalis, which is similarly a pathogen of humans but also an early branching eukaryote in the tree of life. This work integrates molecular parasitology and cell biology to understand how the parasites interact with cells and adapt to changing milieus within the host in their attempts to establish chronic infections and successful transmission. In the lab we perform global transcriptome, proteome and metabolome analyses of both parasites and host and focus on the molecular basis for gene regulation within the parasites with the aim of identifying new regulatory mechanisms and therapeutic targets. We are in particular interested in scrutinizing the host molecular response to parasite infections, decoding how parasites adapt to changing milieus within the human host and understanding the biogenesis, evolution and role of parasite ncRNA in this adaptation.

We are a multidisciplinary and collaborative research team within the fields of parasitology, RNA biology and genetics and highly engaged in field-projects with collaborators in Uganda and Rwanda to maintain a high clinical relevance of our research.



Levels of human proteins in plasma associated with acute paediatric malaria.
Reuterswärd P, Bergström S, Orikiiriza J, Lindquist E, Bergström S, Andersson Svahn H, et al
Malar J 2018 Nov;17(1):426

Atrophy of skin-draining lymph nodes predisposes for impaired immune responses to secondary infection in mice with chronic intestinal nematode infection.
Feng X, Classon C, Terán G, Yang Y, Li L, Chan S, et al
PLoS Pathog 2018 05;14(5):e1007008

Coordinated Changes in Gene Expression Throughout Encystation of Giardia intestinalis.
Einarsson E, Troell K, Hoeppner MP, Grabherr M, Ribacke U, Svärd SG
PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2016 Mar;10(3):e0004571

Strand-specific RNA sequencing in Plasmodium falciparum malaria identifies developmentally regulated long non-coding RNA and circular RNA.
Broadbent KM, Broadbent JC, Ribacke U, Wirth D, Rinn JL, Sabeti PC
BMC Genomics 2015 Jun;16():454

The cytoplasmic prolyl-tRNA synthetase of the malaria parasite is a dual-stage target of febrifugine and its analogs.
Herman JD, Pepper LR, Cortese JF, Estiu G, Galinsky K, Zuzarte-Luis V, et al
Sci Transl Med 2015 May;7(288):288ra77

A genomic and evolutionary approach reveals non-genetic drug resistance in malaria.
Herman JD, Rice DP, Ribacke U, Silterra J, Deik AA, Moss EL, et al
Genome Biol 2014 ;15(11):511

Immune characterization of Plasmodium falciparum parasites with a shared genetic signature in a region of decreasing transmission.
Bei AK, Diouf A, Miura K, Larremore DB, Ribacke U, Tullo G, et al
Infect Immun 2015 Jan;83(1):276-85

Improved in vitro culture of Plasmodium falciparum permits establishment of clinical isolates with preserved multiplication, invasion and rosetting phenotypes.
Ribacke U, Moll K, Albrecht L, Ahmed Ismail H, Normark J, Flaberg E, et al
PLoS One 2013 ;8(7):e69781

Acquired antibodies to merozoite antigens in children from Uganda with uncomplicated or severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria.
Ahmed Ismail H, Ribacke U, Reiling L, Normark J, Egwang T, Kironde F, et al
Clin Vaccine Immunol 2013 Aug;20(8):1170-80

Genetic diversity of Plasmodium falciparum infections in mild and severe malaria of children from Kampala, Uganda.
Kiwuwa MS, Ribacke U, Moll K, Byarugaba J, Lundblom K, Färnert A, et al
Parasitol Res 2013 Apr;112(4):1691-700

Nuclear repositioning precedes promoter accessibility and is linked to the switching frequency of a Plasmodium falciparum invasion gene.
Coleman BI, Ribacke U, Manary M, Bei AK, Winzeler EA, Wirth DF, et al
Cell Host Microbe 2012 Dec;12(6):739-50

Sequence-based association and selection scans identify drug resistance loci in the Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite.
Park DJ, Lukens AK, Neafsey DE, Schaffner SF, Chang HH, Valim C, et al
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2012 Aug;109(32):13052-7



Enquiries about postdoctoral positions are welcome, please see contact details below

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Ulf Ribacke


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