Jenefer Blackwell

Jennie Blackwell

Emeritus Principal Fellow and Emeritus Professor

Telethon Kids Institute / University of Western Australia, Australia







Scientific Advisory Board Member


Research Keywords: 

Leishmaniasis, genetic susceptibility, pre-clinical vaccine studies



Jenefer Blackwell is a West Australian who obtained her BSc Honours (1969) and PhD (1974) at the University of Western Australia.  She is a Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Science (F Med Sci; 2000), Honorary DSc University of Khartoum (2009), ScD University of Cambridge (2010), and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA, 2015).  She has a major interest in the genetic epidemiology and immunology of infectious diseases and has spent >40 years researching neglected tropical diseases in Brazil, pan-Europe, Hong Kong, India, Malawi, Pakistan, Sudan, Thailand, USA, Venezuela and Vietnam.  She transitioned from postdoc to Reader at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (1975-1991), continuously funded by a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship from 1982-1991.  She was recruited to the Glaxo Professorship for Molecular Parasitology at the University of Cambridge (1991-2007) where she raised funds to build, and was the Founding Director (1998-2001) of, the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (CIMR).  From 2007-2020 she was a Professor at the University of Western Australia and Principal Research Fellow the Telethon Kids Institute, now held as Emeritus positions.  Jenefer maintains her affiliations with CIMR and as a Senior Scientist in the Department of Pathology at the University of Cambridge where she has recently held UK Medical Research Council funding to undertake a genome-wide association study of cutaneous leishmaniasis in Brazil. 


Appointment to Cambridge coincided with Jenefer’s role in promoting parasite genome projects.  She chaired the WHO Leishmania Genome Consortium (1992-2003), promoting funding for genomic sequencing of L. major (Science, 2005).  She established functional genomics studies in her lab that included microarray expression profiling and pre-clinical screening of 100 novel amastigote-expressed antigens as Leishmania vaccines.  She has >400 scientific publications and has published primary papers from her lab in Nature, Nature Genetics, Science, PLoS Genet, Lancet Infect Dis, J Exp Med, Clin Infect Dis, J Immunol, J Infect Dis, Blood, J Biol Chem, Eur J Immunol, and many other high impact journals in her field.  Her Google Scholar H-index (September 2021) is 86, with 28,942 citations.  Her contribution to tropical medicine has been recognized by the Chris Wright Medal (1994), the Leverhulme Medal (2000), and a Worldleish 5 – Lifetime Contribution Award in recognition of her “inestimable contribution to the field of leishmaniasis” (2013).


Related Websites: 

Profile page at Telethon Kids Institute


Key Publications:

Singh, O-P., Syn, G., Nylen, S., Engwerda, C., Sacks, D., Wilson, M.E., Kumar, R., Chakravarty, J., Sundar, S., Blackwell, J.M.* and Fakiola, M.* (2021).  Anti-Interleukin-10 unleashes transcriptional response to leishmanial antigens in visceral leishmaniasis patients.  Journal of Infectious Diseases, 223(3), 517-521, doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiaa381.  *Equal senior authors. PMID: 32614452. 

Fakiola, M.*, Singh, O-P.*, Syn, G., Singh, T., Singh, B., Chakravarty, J., Sundar, S.… and Blackwell, J.M.… (2019).  Transcriptional blood signatures for active and Amphotericin B treated visceral leishmaniasis in India.  PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Aug 16;13(8):e0007673. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0007673. *Equal first authors. …Equal senior authors.  PMID: 31419223.

Singh, T., Fakiola, M., Oommen, J., Singh, A.P., Singh, A. Kr., Smith, N., Chakravarty, J., Sundar, S. and Blackwell, J.M. (2018).  Epitope binding characteristics for risk versus protective DRB1 alleles for visceral leishmaniasis.  Journal of Immunology, 200, 2727-2737.  doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1701764.  PMID:29507109.  Highlighted in editorial as top 10%.

Fakiola, M*., Strange, A*., Cordell, H.J., Miller, E.N., Pirinen, M., Su, Z., Mishra, A., Mehrotra, S., Monteiro, G.R., Band, G., Bellinguez, C., Davison, D., Dronov, S., Edkins, S., Freeman, C., Giannoulatou, E., Gray, E., Hunt, S.E., Lacerda, H.G., Langford, C.,  Pearson, R., Pontes, N.N., Rai, M., Singh, S.P., Smith, L., Olivia Sousa, O., Vukcevic, D., Bramon, E., Brown, M.A., Casas, J.P., Corvin, A., Duncanson, A., Jankowski, J., Markus, H.S., Palmer, C.N.A., Plomin, R., Rautanen, A., Sawcer, S.J., Trembath, R.C., Viswanathan, A.C., Wood, N.W , Deloukas, P., Peltonen, L., Christiansen, F., Witt, C., Wilson, M.E., Jeronimo, S.M.B., Sundar, S., Spencer, C.C.A., Blackwell, J.M.… and Donnelly, D.… (The LeishGEN Consortium and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 2). (2013) Common variants in the HLA-DRB1-HLA-DQA1 HLA class II region are associated with susceptibility to visceral leishmaniasis.  Nature Genetics, 45, 208-213.  * Equal first authors; … Equal senior authors.  PMID: 23291585.

Singh, O.P., Stober, C.B., Singh, A.K., Blackwell, J.M.… and Sundar, S.… (2012) Cytokine responses to novel antigens in an Indian population living in an area endemic for visceral leishmaniasis.  PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 6(10), e1874. … Equal senior authors.  PMID: 23150744.

Stober, C.B., Jeronimo, S.M.B., Pontes, N.N., Miller, E.N. and Blackwell, J.M. (2012) Cytokine responses to novel antigens in a peri-urban population in Brazil exposed to Leishmania chagasi.  American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 87, 663-670.  PMID: 22826477.

Carson, C., Antoniou, M., Ruiz-Argüello, M.B., Alcami, A., Christodoulou, V., Messaritakis, I., Blackwell, J.M. and Courtenay, O. (2009) A prime/boost DNA/Modified vaccinia virus Ankara vaccine expressing recombinant Leishmania DNA encoding TRYP is safe and immunogenic in outbred dogs, the reservoir of zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis.  Vaccine, 27, 1080-1086.  PMID: 19386420.

Stober, C.B. Lange, U., Roberts, M.T.M., Alcami, A. and Blackwell, J.M. (2007) Heterologous prime-boosting with DNA and modified vaccinia virus Anakara expressing tryparedoxin peroxidase promotes long-term memory against Leishmania major in susceptible BALB/c mice.  Infection and Immunity, 75, 852-860.  PMID: 17101647.

Stober, C.B. Lange, U., Roberts, M.T.M., Gilmartin, B., Francis, R., Almeida, R., Peacock, C.S., McCann, S. and Blackwell, J.M. (2006) From genome to vaccines for leishmaniasis: Screening 100 novel vaccine candidates against murine Leishmania major infection.  Vaccine, 24, 2602-2616.  PMID: 16406227.

Stober, C.B. Lange, U., Roberts, M.T.M., Alcami, A. and Blackwell, J.M. (2005) IL-10 from regulatory T cells determines vaccine efficacy in murine Leishmania major infection.  Journal of Immunology, 175, 2517-2524.  PMID: 16081824.