Associate Professor Richard Culleton

Speciality / Research theme / Keywords
Parasitology, Immunology, Genomic biology, Molecular Biology, Evolutionary Biology
Programme director
Doctoral Programme


PhD in malaria parasite genetics

Personal/work Web page addresses


Research gate or Linked-in account links







Malaria Unit, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nagasaki University


  • BSc (hons) Biological Sciences — University of Edinburgh, Scotland 1996-2000
  • PhD Malaria Parasite Genetics — University of Edinburgh, Scotland 2001 -2004
  • Research Assistant – University of Edinburgh – 2000 -2001
  • Research Associate – University of Edinburgh – 2004 -2005
  • International Research Fellow – Osaka University – 2005 -2008
  • Assistant Professor – Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nagasaki University – 2008 -2011
  • Associate Professor – Malaria Unit, ITM, Nagasaki University – 2011-Present


My lab focuses on genetic and genomic approaches to identify the underlying genetic causes of medically important phenotypic differences between parasite strains. We use the rodent malaria parasites for some of these studies, but we are increasingly pursuing investigations involving the human malaria parasites in in vitro culture, and non-human primate malaria parasites such as Plasmodium cynomolgi in monkeys. We also work in malaria endemic countries on epidemiology related projects, including with P. falciparum and P. vivax in Africa, P. knowlesi and P. cynomolgi in Southeast Asia, and P. simium and P. brasilianum in South America. We are interested in ALL aspects of malariology.

The country/countries where you work currently

  • Japan
  • Nigeria
  • Brazil

Five MOST IMPORTANT/INTERESTING recent publications

  1. Lu F, Culleton R, Zhang M, Ramaprasad A, von Seidlein L, Zhou H, Zhu G, Tang J, Liu Y, Wang W, Cao Y, Xu S, Gu Y, Li J, Zhang C, Gao Q, Menard D, Pain A, Yang H, Zhang Q & Cao J., Emergence of Indigenous Artemisinin Resistant Plasmodium falciparum in AfricaNew England Journal of Medicine 376 (10), 991-993 2017
  2. Abkallo H, Martinelli A, Inoue M, Ramaprasad A, Xangsayarath P, Gitaka J, Tang J, Yahata K, Zoungrana A, Mitaka H, Hunt P, Carter R, Kaneko O, Mustonen V, Illingworth CJR, Pain A & Culleton R, Rapid Identification of Genes Controlling Virulence and Immunity in Malaria ParasitesPLoS Pathogens 13(7): e1006447 2017
  3. Brasil P, Zalis MG, de Pina-Costa A, Siqueira AM, Bianco Junior C, Silva S, Areas ALL, Pelajo-Machado M, de Alvarenga DAM, Santelli ACFdS, Albuquerque HG, Cravo P, de Abreu FVS, Peterka CL, Zanini GM, Suarez-Mutis MC, Pissinatti A, Lourenco-de-Oliveira R, Brito CFAd, Ferreira-da-Cruz MdF, Culleton R, Daniel-Ribeiro CT. 2017. Outbreak of human malaria caused by Plasmodium simium in the Atlantic Forest in Rio de Janeiro: a molecular epidemiological investigationThe Lancet Global Health 5: e1038–46 2017
  4. Ansari HA, Templeton JT, Subudhi AK, Ramaprasad A, Tang J, Lu J, Naeem R, Oguike MC, Benavente ED, Clark TG, Sutherland CJ, Barnwell JW, Culleton R*, Cao J* and Pain A*. Genome-scale comparison of expanded gene families in Plasmodium ovale wallikeri and Plasmodium ovale curtisi with Plasmodium malariae and with other Plasmodium speciesInternational Journal for Parasitology 2016 Oct; 46 (11) :685-96 2016 2016
  5. Abkallo HM, Tangena JA, Tang J, Kobayashi N, Inoue M, Zoungrana A, Colegrave N, Culleton R, Within-host competition does not select for virulence in malaria parasites; studies with Plasmodium yoelii PLOS Pathogens 11(2): e1004628 2015

For an up to date publication list, please see:


The Malaria Unit at the Institute of Tropical Medicine is a dynamic and cosmopolitan laboratory specializing in the genetics and epidemiology of malaria. Although we take our scientific research very seriously, we endeavour to create a fun and relaxing environment for lab members, as we believe that science should be enjoyable and rewarding for the researcher.
We work on multiple disciplines within malariology, and try to accommodate each individual lab member’s research interests. We rely on a large network of international collaborators for the vast majority of our research projects, and currently have active partnerships with researchers in numerous regions including the UK, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Nigeria, Kenya, Thailand and elsewhere.
All research and lab life is conducted in English (with a smattering of Swahili, Welsh and American).
Our lab offers graduate students a relaxed and informal atmosphere in which to explore their own research interests with strong academic support and guidance if required.
Potential projects available with our lab include (but are not limited to); studies of inter-species interactions between malaria parasite strains and species within mice and mosquitoes; discovery of genes involved in drug resistance/ virulence/ strain-specific immunity in rodent malaria parasites through genetic crossing and whole genome sequencing; studies involving investigation of the conditions required for optimal vectorial capacity in mosquitoes; studies on the population genetics of P. falciparum, P. malariae and P. ovale in field isolates from Nigeria.
We also strongly encourage potential graduate students to design their own research utilizing the resources of the Malaria Unit. These include the largest collection of rodent malaria parasite isolates in the world, a colony of A. stephensi mosquitoes in a state-of-the-art insectary for transmission experiments, and access to field isolates from our international collaborators.