Dr. Silvia Portugal

Max-Planck-Institut für Infektionsbiologie
Charitéplatz 1
Campus Charité Mitte
10117 Berlin / Germany

Phone: +49 (0)30 28460 0

until June 2020:

Department of Infectious Diseases, Parasitology
Heidelberg University Hospital
69120 Heidelberg, Germany


The main goal of my lab is to understand how Plasmodium, the causative agent of malaria, survives the dry season when no mosquitoes are available. Plasmodium usually alternates between a human host and a mosquito vector, but in many areas of the globe a long and complete dry season interrupts transmission for several months. We study the host and parasite factors that contribute to silent carriage of parasites in close to 30% of children during the 6-month dry season in Mali.


2017 ERC Starting Grant at Heidelberg University Hospital
2016 Group Leader Fellowship at Heidelberg University Hospital, DZIF
2015 Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE) NIH Scientific Directors
2014 Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE) NIH Scientific Directors
2013 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Endowment to attend the Biology of Parasitism course at the Marine Biology Laboratory, Woods Hole, USA
2012 European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Long-Term Fellowship
2010 Participation on the 60th Interdisciplinary Meeting of Nobel Laureates at Lindau, Germany
2009 Short-Term Fellowship by Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Portugal to attend the 5th MIM Pan-African Malaria Conference, November 2 – 6, 2009, Nairobi, Kenya
2009 University of South Florida Travel Award to attend the Vivax Malaria Research III: 2009 and Beyond conference, May 24 – 28, 2009, Gamboa Rainforest Resort, Panama
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2016-2020 Group Leader, Center for Infectious Diseases, Heidelberg University
2011-2016 Postdoc (NIAID, NIH, USA)
12/2017-12/2019 DIZF seminar series titled: ‘Malaria cross talk between field and bench research’ in Heidelberg from December 2017 to December 2019
  • Obeng-Adjei N, Portugal S, Holla P, Li S, Sohn H, Ambegaonkar A, Skinner J, Bowyer G, Doumbo OK, Traore B, Pierce SK, Crompton PD.Malaria-induced interferon-γ drives the expansion of Tbethi atypical memory B cells.PLoS Pathog. 2017 Sep PMID: 28953967
  • Portugal S, Tran TM, Ongoiba A, Bathily A, Li S, Doumbo S, Skinner J, Doumtabe D, Kone Y, Sangala J, Jain A, Davies DH, Hung C, Liang L, Ricklefs S, Homann MV, Felgner PL, Porcella PF, Färnert A, Doumbo OK, Kayentao K, Greenwood BM, Traore B, Crompton PD. Treatment of chronic asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum infection does not increase the risk of clinical malaria upon reinfection. CID, 2017 Mar PMID: 28362910
  • Sercundes MK, Ortolan LS, Debone D, Soeiro-Pereira PV, Gomes E, Neto AC, Russo M, D’Império Lima MR, Alvarez JM, Portugal S, Marinho CR, Epiphanio S. Targetting neutrophils to prevent malaria-associated acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome in mice. PLoS Pathogens, 2016 Dec PMID: 27926944
  • Krishnamurty AT, Thouvenel CD, Portugal P, Keitany GJ, Kim KS, Holder A, Crompton PD, Rawlings DJ, Pepper M. Somatically hypermutated Plasmodium-Specific IgM+ memory B cells are rapid, plastic, early responders upon malaria rechallenge. Immunnity. 2016 Aug PMID: 27473412
  • Obeng-Adjei N, Portugal S, Tran TM, Yazew TB, Skinner J, Li S, Jain A, Felgner PL, Doumbo OK, Kayentao K, Ongoiba A, Traore B, Crompton PD. Circulating Th1-cell-type Tfh cells that exhibit impaired B cell help are preferentially activated during acute malaria in children. Cell Rep. 2015 Sep PMID: 26440897
  • Portugal S, Tipton CM, Sohn H, Kone Y, Wang J, Li S, Skinner J, Virtaneva K, Sturdevant DE, Porcella SF, Doumbo OK, Doumbo S, Kayentao K, Ongoiba A, Traore B, Sanz I, Pierce SK, Crompton PD. Malaria-associated atypical memory B cells exhibit markedly reduced B cell receptor signaling and effector function. Elife. 2015 May PMID: 25955968
  • Bahtiyar Y, Portugal S, Tran TM, Gozzelino R, Ramos S, Gomes J, Regalado A, Cowan PJ, d’Apice AJF, Chong AS, Doumbo OK, Traore B, Crompton PD, Silveira H, Soares MP. Gut microbiota elicits a protective immune response against malaria Transmission. CELL 2014 Dec PMID: 25480293
  • Portugal S, Moebius J, Skinner J, Doumbo D, Doumtabe D, Kone Y, Dia S, Kanakabandi K, Sturdevant DE, Virtaneva K, Porcella SF, Li S, Doumbo OK, Kayentao K, Ongoiba A, Traore B, Crompton PD. Exposure-dependent control of malaria-induced inflammation in children. PLoS Pathog. 2014 Apr PMID: 24743880
  • Portugal S, Carret C, Recker M, Armitage AE, Gonçalves LA, Epiphanio S, Sullivan D, Roy C, Newbold CI, Drakesmith H, Mota MM. Host mediated regulation of superinfection in malaria. Nat Med. 2011 Jun PMID: 21572427
  • Pamplona A, Ferreira A, Balla J, Jeney V, Balla G, Epiphanio S, Chora A, Rodrigues CD, Gregoire IP, Cunha-Rodrigues M, Portugal S, Soares MP, Mota MM. Heme oxygenase-1 and carbon monoxide suppress the pathogenesis of experimental cerebral Malaria. Nat Med. 2007 Jun PMID: 1749689

Click here for further publications.