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Malaria genomics

Malaria genomics

Project Lead(s)
Dr. Anita Ghansah
Associate Professor
Project Background 

I am involved in translational research into malaria and other infectious diseases with the ultimate goal of applying genomic research output to inform disease control and elimination.

Objectives/Research Areas 

My research interests include:


  • Building capacity in the use of Plasmodium falciparum genomic data to describe the extent of genetic diversity of the parasite, discovery of new genes and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that may have biological importance and development of novel genetic analysis tools for studying well defined phenotypes such as drug resistance and vaccine efficacy.
  • Focus on how parasite genetic diversity and resistance to antimalarial drugs influence the epidemiology of malaria and the implications on therapeutic and vaccination strategies.
  • Using population genetics strategies to identify genetic loci that contribute to drug resistance in falciparum and the development of genomic tools to characterize P. falciparum diversity in the population.
Ongoing Activities  
  • I am currently collaborating with the Bailey group of Brown University on malaria drug resistance and parasite population dynamics using the targeted deep sequencing after amplification with the Molecular Inversion Probe developed by the Bailey lab.
  • Studies on the impacts of Environment, Host Genetics and Antigen Diversity on Malaria Vaccine Efficacy
  • Community engagement in Genomics and Biobanking, aimed at creating more awareness in Genomics and biobanking and training a core group of ethicists in community engagement in genomics and this study involves 7 sites in three African countries.
  • Developing an innovative tool for drug resistance surveillance at the genomic level.
  • In silico discovery of anti-malarial drug targets
  • Genomics and Bioinformatics capacity building
  • Studies on malaria vaccine antigen diversity in Ghana
Key Publications  

A Ghansah, KE Tiedje, DC Argyropoulos, CO Onwona, SL Deed, F Labbé, Abraham R Oduro, Kwadwo A Koram, Mercedes Pascual, Karen P Day. Comparison of molecular surveillance methods to assess changes in the population genetics of Plasmodium falciparum in high transmission Frontiers in Parasitology 2, 1067966


Argyropoulos DC, Tan MH, Adobor C, Mensah B, Labbé F, Tiedje KE, Koram KA, Ghansah A, Day KP. Performance of SNP barcodes to determine genetic diversity and population structure of Plasmodium falciparum in Africa. Front Genet. 2023 Jun 1;14:1071896. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2023.1071896. PMID: 37323661; PMCID: PMC10267394.

Tiedje KE, Oduro AR, Bangre O, Amenga-Etego L, Dadzie SK, Appawu MA, Frempong K, Asoala V, Ruybal-Pésantez S, Narh CA, Deed SL, Argyropoulos DC, Ghansah A, Agyei SA, Segbaya S, Desewu K, Williams I, Simpson JA, Malm K, Pascual M, Koram KA, Day KP. Indoor residual spraying with a non-pyrethroid insecticide reduces the reservoir of Plasmodium falciparum in a high-transmission area in northern Ghana. PLOS Glob Public Health. 2022;2(5). doi: 10.1371/journal.pgph.0000285. Epub 2022 May 18. PubMed PMID: 35600674; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC9121889

Bell GJ, Gyaase S, Goel V, Adu B, Mensah B, Essone P, Dosoo D, Osei M, Niare K, Wiru K, Brandt K, Emch M, Ghansah A, Asante KP, Mvalo T, Agnandji ST, Juliano JJ, Bailey JA. Malaria Transmission Intensity and Parasitemia during the Three-Dose RTS,S/AS01 Vaccination Series do not Reduce Magnitude of Antibody Response nor Efficacy Against the First Case of Malaria. Res Sq [Preprint]. 2023 May doi: 10.21203/ PMID: 37292711; PMCID: PMC10246269.

Adu B, Bonney JHK, Egyir B, Otchere ID, Asare P, Dennis FE, Bonney EY, Akuffo R, Asante IA, Obodai E, Kumordjie S, Appiah-Kubi J, Mohktar Q, Frempong HO, Asiedu-Bekoe F, Adusei-Poku MA, Aboagye JO, Agbodzi B, Yeboah C, Agbenyo SB, Uche PO, Attiku KO, Sekyere BT, Laryea D, Buabeng K, Lamptey H, Ghansah A, Yeboah-Manu D, Anang AK, Ampofo WK, Kyei GB, Odoom JK. SARS-CoV-2 Molecular Evolutionary Dynamics in the Greater Accra Region, Ghana. Emerg Infect Dis. 2023 Apr;29(4):862-865. doi: 10.3201/eid2904.221410. PMID: 36958011; PMCID: PMC10045712.

Boateng RA, Myers-Hansen JL, Dolling NNO, Mensah BA, Brodsky E, Mazumder M, Ghansah A. Global Analysis of Plasmodium falciparum Dihydropteroate Synthase Variants Associated with Sulfadoxine Resistance Reveals Variant Distribution and Mechanisms of Resistance: A Computational-Based Study. Molecules. 2022 Dec 24;28(1):145. doi: 10.3390/molecules28010145. PMID: 36615340; PMCID: PMC9822128.

Labbé F, He Q, Zhan Q, Tiedje KE, Argyropoulos DC, Tan MH, Ghansah A, Day KP, Pascual M. Neutral vs. non-neutral genetic footprints of Plasmodium falciparum multiclonal infections. PLoS Comput Biol. 2023 Jan 3;19(1):e1010816. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1010816. PMID: 36595546; PMCID: PMC9838855.

Aydemir O, Mensah BA, Marsh PF, Abuaku , Myers-Hansen JL JL, Bailey JA, Ghansah A. Immediate pools of malaria infections at diagnosis combined with targeted deep sequencing accurately quantifies frequency of drug resistance mutations. PeerJ 9:e11794 PeerJ. 2021 November.


Myers-Hansen JL, Abuaku B, Oyebola MK, Mensah BA, Ahorlu C, Wilson MD, Awandare G, Koram KA, Ngwa AA, Ghansah A. Assessment of antimalarial drug resistant markers in asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum infections after 4 years of indoor residual spraying in Northern Ghana. PLoS One.2020;15(12):e0233478. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0233478. eCollection 2020. PubMed PMID: 33284800; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7721464.


Amegashie EA, Amenga-Etego L, Adobor C, Ogoti P, Mbogo K, Amambua-Ngwa A, Ghansah A. Population genetic analysis of the Plasmodium falciparum circumsporozoite protein in two distinct ecological regions in Ghana. Malar J. 2020 Nov 27;19(1):437. doi: 10.1186/s12936-020-03510-3. PubMed PMID: 33246470; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7694917


Narh CA, Ghansah A, Duffy MF, Ruybal-Pesántez S, Onwona CO, Oduro AR, Koram KA, Day KP, Tiedje KE.Evolution of Antimalarial Drug Resistance Markers in the Reservoir of Plasmodium falciparum Infections in the Upper East Region of Ghana. J Infect Dis. 2020 Oct 13;222(10):1692-1701. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiaa286. PubMed PMID: 32459360; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7982568.


Mensah BA, Aydemir O, Myers-Hansen JL, Opoku M, Hathaway NJ, Marsh PW, Anto F, Bailey J, Abuaku B, Ghansah A. Antimalarial Drug Resistance Profiling of Plasmodium falciparum Infections in Ghana Using Molecular Inversion Probes and Next-Generation Sequencing. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2020 Mar 24;64(4). doi: 10.1128/AAC.01423-19. Print 2020 Mar 24. PubMed PMID: 31932374; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7179265


Ghansah A, Kamau E, Amambua-Ngwa A, Ishengoma DS, Maiga-Ascofare O, Amenga-Etego L, Deme A, Yavo W, Randrianarivelojosia M, Ochola-Oyier LI, Helegbe GK, Bailey J, Alifrangis M, Djimde A. Targeted Next Generation Sequencing for malaria research in Africa: current status and outlook. Malar J. 2019 Sep 23;18(1):324. doi: 10.1186/s12936-019-2944-2. PubMed PMID: 31547818; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6757370


Amambua-Ngwa A, Amenga-Etego L, Kamau E, Amato R, Ghansah A, Golassa L, Randrianarivelojosia M, Ishengoma D, Apinjoh T, Maïga-Ascofaré O, Andagalu B, Yavo W, Bouyou-Akotet M, Kolapo O, Mane K, Worwui A, Jeffries D, Simpson V, D'Alessandro U, Kwiatkowski D, Djimde AA. Major subpopulations of Plasmodium falciparum in sub-Saharan Africa. Science. 2019 Aug 23;365(6455):813-816. doi: 10.1126/science.aav5427. PubMed PMID: 31439796


Abuaku BK, Mensah BA, Ofori MF, Myers-Hansen J, Derkyi-Kwarteng AN, Essilfie F, Dokurugu M, Amoakoh E, Koram KA, Ghansah A. Efficacy of Artesunate/Amodiaquine in the Treatment of Uncomplicated Malaria among Children in Ghana. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2017 Sep;97(3):690-695. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.15-0826. Epub 2017 Jul 27. PubMed PMID: 28749762; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5590557


Kamau E, Campino S, Amenga-Etego L, Drury E, Ishengoma D, Johnson K, Mumba D, Kekre M, Yavo W, Mead D, Bouyou-Akotet M, Apinjoh T, Golassa L, Randrianarivelojosia M, Andagalu B, Maiga-Ascofare O, Amambua-Ngwa A, Tindana P, Ghansah A, MacInnis B, Kwiatkowski D, Djimde AA. K13-propeller polymorphisms in Plasmodium falciparum parasites from sub-Saharan Africa. J Infect Dis. 2015 Apr 15;211(8):1352-5. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiu608. Epub 2014 Nov 2. PubMed PMID: 25367300; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4827505


Ghansah A, Amenga-Etego L, Amambua-Ngwa A, Andagalu B, Apinjoh T, Bouyou-Akotet M, Cornelius V, Golassa L, Andrianaranjaka VH, Ishengoma D, Johnson K, Kamau E, Maïga-Ascofaré O, Mumba D, Tindana P, Tshefu-Kitoto A, Randrianarivelojosia M, William Y, Kwiatkowski DP, Djimde AA. Monitoring parasite diversity for malaria elimination in sub-Saharan Africa. Science. 2014 Sep 12;345(6202):1297-8. doi: 10.1126/science.1259423. PubMed PMID: 25214619; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4541720.


More publications are available at:

Research Assistant
Research Assistant
Research Assistant
Research Assistant
Dr. Benedicta Mensah Research Fellow
Research Fellow
Internal Collaborator(s) 
Dr. Benjamin Abuaku (Epidemiology Department)
Dr. Bright Adu (Immunology Department)
External Collaborator(s) 
Prof. Jeffery Bailey, (Brown University, USA)
Prof. Michael Emch (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Prof. Jonathan Juliano ((University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Dr Kweku Asante Opoku, Kintampo Health Research Centre
Pathogen Diversity Network (PDNA- comprised of 16 African Countries) led by Professor Abdoulaye Djimde
Dr Paulina Tindana, University of Ghana School of Public Health
Dr Dwomua Adu, University of Ghana Medical School
National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP)
African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) and The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities (The Guild) 2023-2027 Title: Genomics for Health in Africa Role: Core Partner
Grant: Del-22-013 2023-2027 SFAF Title: Developing Excellence in Leadership and Genomics Training for Malaria Elimination and AntiMicrobial Resistance control in Africa (DELGEME Plus) Role: Co-applicant and Deputy Director
Project: 101103174 — 2023-2027 HORIZON-JU-GH-EDCTP3-2022-01 Title: Pan-Africa network for genomic surveillance of poverty related diseases and emerging pathogens (PANGenS) Role: Co-applicant (Malaria Work package lead)
Investment ID INV-037564 2021-2026 BMGF Title: Rapid Clinical Sampling, Pooling and Targeted Deep Sequencing of Malaria Parasites: A Novel Model for Effective Malaria Molecular Surveillance Role: Principal Investigator
1U54HG010275-01 (Ghansah/Tindana) 2018-2023 NHGRI Title: Community Engagement in Biobanking and Genomics (CEBioGen) Role: Principal Investigator
1R01AI137410-01 (Bailey/Ermch) 2018-2023 NIAID Title: Impacts of Environment, Host Genetics and Antigen Diversity on Malaria Vaccine Efficacy Role: Co Investigator (Sub-award PI, NMIMR)
107740/Z/15/Z (Djimde) 2016-2021 Wellcome Trust Title: Developing Excellence in Leadership and Genetic Training for Malaria Elimination in sub-Saharan Africa (DELGEME) Role: Co-Applicant in charge of research management and environment hub (Sub-award PI, NMIMR)
107755Z/15/Z (Awandare) 2015-2020 Wellcome Trust Title:WACCIP-Wellcome Trust DELTAS Programme Role: Co-Applicant
R01AI099527 (Ghansah) 2013-2018 NIAID Title: Impact of Distinct Eco-epidemiology on Malaria Drug Resistance in Ghana Role: Principal Investigator
1U41HG006941-01(Moulder) 2013-2017 NIAID Title: A Sustainable African Bioinformatics Network for H3Africa (H3ABioNet) Role- Co Principal Investigator
R01-TW009670 (Pascual) 2013-2016 FIC-EEID Title: Impact of Seasonality and vector control on population structure of P. falciparum Description: The effect of seasonal changes and IRS on P. falciparum population structure Role Co-Investigator
R29214/CN003 2013-2014 (MRC-Centre for Genomics and Global Health-Centenary Fellowship) Title: Exploring Plasmodium falciparum genome to understand the genetic diversity, emergence of drug resistance and vaccine efficacy Role: Principal Investigator