Mara Lawniczak, PhD

Group Leader
Wellcome Sanger Institute


Mara Lawniczak is an evolutionary geneticist and senior group leader at the Wellcome Sanger Institute. Current malaria research in her group spans vector population genomics and parasite transmission biology. Through collaboration with many vector researchers working in malaria endemic countries, our team is generating high quality reference genomes from single mosquitoes and sequencing thousands of wild mosquitoes (both whole genome and targeted sequencing) and using these resources to gain a deep understanding of population structure and gene flow for a variety of malaria vector species, primarily in Africa. We are also sequencing mosquitoes from historic collections from the past century to study how populations have changed over 70 years of insecticide usage. Our group also created and continues to build the ‘Malaria Cell Atlas’, a single cell RNA sequencing data resource that provides a window into individual parasite transcription across the complete life cycle of both Plasmodium berghei and falciparum. This resource will continue to grow with our current efforts in Mali to examine individual parasite transcriptomes in natural infections to investigate transmission dynamics. All areas of our research are aimed at gaining an evolutionary perspective on these organisms with the aim to contribute to malaria control.