Melissa Conrad, PhD

Assistant Professor

My research focuses on the evolution of antimalarial drug resistance in Uganda and the molecular epidemiology of malaria transmission. Working closely with a team of researchers in Uganda, our group evaluates antimalarial resistance in Plasmodium falciparum collected from sites across Uganda. Using molecular and ex vivo approaches, we surveil for emerging or spreading drug resistance, evaluate novel markers of resistance and seek to better understand mechanisms of resistance. In addition, we perform membrane feeding assays in which mosquitoes are fed malaria-infected blood with the goal of better understanding the human infectious reservoir of malaria and which populations can be targeted to best reduce ongoing malaria transmission.
2021 - Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion Training, University of California
PhD, 2012 - Biomedical Sciences, New York University School of Medicine
MS, 2007 - General Biology, New York University
BS, 2002 - Biology, Georgetown University
  1. Rosenthal PJ, Asua V, Bailey JA, Conrad MD, Ishengoma DS, Kamya MR, Rasmussen C, Tadesse FG, Uwimana A, Fidock DA. The emergence of artemisinin partial resistance in Africa: how do we respond? The Lancet. Infectious diseases 2024. PMID: 38552654

  2. Somé AF, Conrad MD, Kabré Z, Fofana A, Yerbanga RS, Bazié T, Neya C, Somé M, Kagambega TJ, Legac J, Garg S, Bailey JA, Ouédraogo J-B, Rosenthal PJ, Cooper RA. Ex vivo drug susceptibility and resistance mediating genetic polymorphisms of Plasmodium falciparum in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy 2024. PMID: 38411062

  3. Rosenthal PJ, Asua V, Conrad MD. Emergence, transmission dynamics and mechanisms of artemisinin partial resistance in malaria parasites in Africa. Nature reviews. Microbiology 2024. PMID: 38321292

  4. Meier-Scherling CPG, Watson OJ, Asua V, Ghinai I, Katairo T, Garg S, Conrad M, Rosenthal PJ, Okell LC, Bailey JA. Selection of artemisinin partial resistance Kelch13 mutations in Uganda in 2016-22 was at a rate comparable to that seen previously in South-East Asia. medRxiv : the preprint server for health sciences 2024. PMID: 38352505

  5. Ayo D, Onyige I, Okoth J, Musasizi E, Oruni A, Ramjith J, Arinaitwe E, Rek JC, Drakeley C, Staedke SG, Donnelly MJ, Bousema T, Conrad M, Blanken SL. Susceptibility of Anopheles gambiae to Natural Plasmodium falciparum Infection: A Comparison between the Well-Established Anopheles gambiae s.s Line and a Newly Established Ugandan Anopheles gambiae s.s. Line. The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 2023. PMID: 38150729

  6. Roh ME, Zongo I, Haro A, Huang L, Somé AF, Yerbanga RS, Conrad MD, Wallender E, Legac J, Aweeka F, Ouédraogo JB, Rosenthal PJ. Seasonal malaria chemoprevention drug levels and drug resistance markers in children with or without malaria in Burkina Faso: a case control study. The Journal of infectious diseases 2023. PMID: 37221018

  7. Conrad MD, Asua V, Garg S, Giesbrecht D, Niaré K, Smith S, Namuganga JF, Katairo T, Legac J, Crudale RM, Tumwebaze PK, Nsobya SL, Cooper RA, Kamya MR, Dorsey G, Bailey JA, Rosenthal PJ. Evolution of Partial Resistance to Artemisinins in Malaria Parasites in Uganda. The New England journal of medicine 2023. PMID: 37611122

  8. Kreutzfeld O, Tumwebaze PK, Okitwi M, Orena S, Byaruhanga O, Katairo T, Conrad MD, Rasmussen SA, Legac J, Aydemir O, Giesbrecht D, Forte B, Campbell P, Smith A, Kano H, Nsobya SL, Blasco B, Duffey M, Bailey JA, Cooper RA, Rosenthal PJ. Susceptibility of Ugandan Plasmodium falciparum Isolates to the Antimalarial Drug Pipeline. Microbiology spectrum 2023. PMID: 37158739

  9. Tumwebaze PK, Conrad MD, Okitwi M, Orena S, Byaruhanga O, Katairo T, Legac J, Garg S, Giesbrecht D, Smith SR, Ceja FG, Nsobya SL, Bailey JA, Cooper RA, Rosenthal PJ. Decreased susceptibility of Plasmodium falciparum to both dihydroartemisinin and lumefantrine in northern Uganda. Nature communications 2022. PMID: 36289202

  10. Nankabirwa JI, Rek J, Arinaitwe E, Namuganga JF, Nsobya SL, Asua V, Mawejje HD, Epstein A, Greenhouse B, Rodriguez-Barraquer I, Briggs J, Krezanoski PJ, Rosenthal PJ, Conrad M, Smith D, Staedke SG, Drakeley C, Bousema T, Andolina C, Donnelly MJ, Kamya MR, Dorsey G. East Africa International Center of Excellence for Malaria Research: Summary of Key Research Findings. The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene 2022. PMID: 36228916

  11. Garg S, Kreutzfeld O, Chelebieva S, Tumwebaze PK, Byaruhanga O, Okitwi M, Orena S, Katairo T, Nsobya SL, Conrad MD, Aydemir O, Legac J, Gould AE, Bayles BR, Bailey JA, Duffey M, Lin G, Kirkman LA, Cooper RA, Rosenthal PJ. Susceptibilities of Ugandan Plasmodium falciparum Isolates to Proteasome Inhibitors. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy 2022. PMID: 36094216

  12. Rek J, Blanken SL, Okoth J, Ayo D, Onyige I, Musasizi E, Ramjith J, Andolina C, Lanke K, Arinaitwe E, Olwoch P, Collins KA, Kamya MR, Dorsey G, Drakeley C, Staedke SG, Bousema T, Conrad MD. Asymptomatic school-aged children are important drivers of malaria transmission in a high endemicity setting in Uganda. Academic Medicine 2022. PMID: 35578987

  13. Okitwi M, Orena S, Thomas K, Tumwebaze PK, Byaruhanga O, Nsobya SL, Conrad MD, Bayles BR, Rosenthal PJ, Cooper RA. Impact of Short-Term Storage on Ex Vivo Antimalarial Susceptibilities of Fresh Ugandan Plasmodium falciparum Isolates. Academic Medicine 2022. PMID: 35266828

  14. Musiime AK, Krezanoski PJ, Smith DL, Kilama M, Conrad MD, Otto G, Kyagamba P, Asiimwe J, Rek J, Nankabirwa JI, Arinaitwe E, Akol AM, Kamya MR, Staedke SG, Drakeley C, Bousema T, Lindsay SW, Dorsey G, Tusting LS. House design and risk of malaria, acute respiratory infection and gastrointestinal illness in Uganda: A cohort study. PLOS Global Public Health 2022. PMID: 36962263

  15. Kreutzfeld O, Tumwebaze PK, Byaruhanga O, Katairo T, Okitwi M, Orena S, Rasmussen SA, Legac J, Conrad MD, Nsobya SL, Aydemir O, Bailey JA, Duffey M, Cooper RA, Rosenthal PJ. Decreased susceptibility to dihydrofolate reductase inhibitors associated with genetic polymorphisms in Ugandan Plasmodium falciparum isolates. The Journal of infectious diseases 2021. PMID: 34460932

  16. Zehner N, Adrama H, Kakuru A, Andra T, Kajubi R, Conrad M, Nankya F, Clark TD, Kamya M, Rodriguez-Barraquer I, Dorsey G, Jagannathan P. Age-related Changes in Malaria Clinical Phenotypes During Infancy are Modified by Sickle Cell Trait. Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America 2021. PMID: 33738485

  17. Kreutzfeld O, Rasmussen SA, Ramanathan AA, Tumwebaze PK, Byaruhanga O, Katairo T, Asua V, Okitwi M, Orena S, Legac J, Conrad MD, Nsobya SL, Aydemir O, Bailey J, Duffey M, Bayles BR, Vaidya AB, Cooper RA, Rosenthal PJ. Associations between varied susceptibilities of PfATP4 inhibitors and genotypes in Ugandan Plasmodium falciparum isolates. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy 2021. PMID: 34339273

  18. Duvalsaint M, Conrad MD, Tukwasibwe S, Tumwebaze PK, Legac J, Cooper RA, Rosenthal PJ. Balanced impacts of fitness and drug pressure on the evolution of PfMDR1 polymorphisms in Plasmodium falciparum. Malaria journal 2021. PMID: 34193148

  19. Tumwebaze PK, Katairo T, Okitwi M, Byaruhanga O, Orena S, Asua V, Duvalsaint M, Legac J, Chelebieva S, Ceja FG, Rasmussen SA, Conrad MD, Nsobya SL, Aydemir O, Bailey JA, Bayles BR, Rosenthal PJ, Cooper RA. Drug susceptibility of Plasmodium falciparum in eastern Uganda: a longitudinal phenotypic and genotypic study. The Lancet. Microbe 2021. PMID: 34553183

  20. Andolina C, Rek JC, Briggs J, Okoth J, Musiime A, Ramjith J, Teyssier N, Conrad M, Nankabirwa JI, Lanke K, Rodriguez-Barraquer I, Meerstein-Kessel L, Arinaitwe E, Olwoch P, Rosenthal PJ, Kamya MR, Dorsey G, Greenhouse B, Drakeley C, Staedke SG, Bousema T. Sources of persistent malaria transmission in a setting with effective malaria control in eastern Uganda: a longitudinal, observational cohort study. The Lancet. Infectious diseases 2021. PMID: 34146476

  21. Asua V, Conrad MD, Aydemir O, Duvalsaint M, Legac J, Duarte E, Tumwebaze P, Chin DM, Cooper RA, Yeka A, Kamya MR, Dorsey G, Nsobya SL, Bailey J, Rosenthal PJ. Changing Prevalence of Potential Mediators of Aminoquinoline, Antifolate, and Artemisinin Resistance Across Uganda. The Journal of infectious diseases 2020. PMID: 33146722

  22. Nsobya SL, Walakira A, Namirembe E, Kiggundu M, Nankabirwa JI, Ruhamyankaka E, Arinaitwe E, Conrad MD, Kamya MR, Dorsey G, Rosenthal PJ. Deletions of pfhrp2 and pfhrp3 genes were uncommon in rapid diagnostic test-negative Plasmodium falciparum isolates from Uganda. Malaria journal 2021. PMID: 33386076

  23. Nayebare P, Asua V, Conrad MD, Kajubi R, Kakuru A, Nankabirwa JI, Muhanguzi D, Dorsey G, Kamya MR, Nsobya S, Rosenthal PJ. Associations between malaria preventive regimens and Plasmodium falciparum drug resistance mediating polymorphisms in Ugandan pregnant women. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy 2020. PMID: 33020152

  24. Musiime AK, Smith DL, Kilama M, Geoffrey O, Kyagamba P, Rek J, Conrad MD, Nankabirwa JI, Arinaitwe E, Akol AM, Kamya MR, Dorsey G, Staedke SG, Drakeley C, Lindsay SW. Identification and characterization of immature Anopheles and culicines (Diptera: Culicidae) at three sites of varying malaria transmission intensities in Uganda. Malaria journal 2020. PMID: 32576188

  25. Verity R, Aydemir O, Brazeau NF, Watson OJ, Hathaway NJ, Mwandagalirwa MK, Marsh PW, Thwai K, Fulton T, Denton M, Morgan AP, Parr JB, Tumwebaze PK, Conrad M, Rosenthal PJ, Ishengoma DS, Ngondi J, Gutman J, Mulenga M, Norris DE, Moss WJ, Mensah BA, Myers-Hansen JL, Ghansah A, Tshefu AK, Ghani AC, Meshnick SR, Bailey JA, Juliano JJ. The impact of antimalarial resistance on the genetic structure of Plasmodium falciparum in the DRC. Nature communications 2020. PMID: 32355199

  26. Musiime AK, Smith DL, Kilama M, Rek J, Arinaitwe E, Nankabirwa JI, Kamya MR, Conrad MD, Dorsey G, Akol AM, Staedke SG, Lindsay SW, Egonyu JP. Impact of vector control interventions on malaria transmission intensity, outdoor vector biting rates and Anopheles mosquito species composition in Tororo, Uganda. Malaria journal 2019. PMID: 31881898

  27. Musiime AK, Okoth J, Conrad M, Ayo D, Onyige I, Rek J, Nankabirwa JI, Arinaitwe E, Kamya MR, Dorsey G, van Gemert GJ, Staedke SG, Drakeley C, Bousema T, Andolina C. Is that a real oocyst? Insectary establishment and identification of Plasmodium falciparum oocysts in midguts of Anopheles mosquitoes fed on infected human blood in Tororo, Uganda. Malaria journal 2019. PMID: 31455343

  28. Conrad MD, Rosenthal PJ. Antimalarial drug resistance in Africa: the calm before the storm? The Lancet. Infectious diseases 2019. PMID: 31375467

  29. Yeka A, Wallender E, Mulebeke R, Kibuuka A, Kigozi R, Bosco A, Kyambadde P, Opigo J, Kalyesubula S, Senzoga J, Vinden J, Conrad M, Rosenthal PJ. Comparative efficacy of artemether-lumefantrine and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria in Ugandan children. The Journal of infectious diseases 2018. PMID: 30418593

  30. Asua V, Vinden J, Conrad MD, Legac J, Kigozi SP, Kamya MR, Dorsey G, Nsobya SL, Rosenthal PJ. Changing molecular markers of antimalarial drug sensitivity across Uganda. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy 2018. PMID: 30559133

  31. Wallender E, Zhang N, Conrad M, Kakuru A, Muhindo M, Tumwebaze P, Kajubi R, Mota D, Legac J, Jagannathan P, Havlir D, Kamya M, Dorsey G, Aweeka F, Rosenthal PJ, Savic RM. Modeling prevention of malaria and selection of drug resistance with different dosing schedules of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine preventive therapy during pregnancy in Uganda. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy 2018. PMID: 30530597

  32. Rasmussen SA, Ceja FG, Conrad MD, Tumwebaze PK, Byaruhanga O, Katairo T, Nsobya SL, Rosenthal PJ, Cooper RA. Changing Antimalarial Drug Sensitivities in Uganda. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy 2017. PMID: 28923866

  33. Conrad MD, Mota D, Foster M, Tukwasibwe S, Legac J, Tumwebaze P, Whalen M, Kakuru A, Nayebare P, Wallender E, Havlir DV, Jagannathan P, Huang L, Aweeka F, Kamya MR, Dorsey G, Rosenthal PJ. Impact of Intermittent Preventive Treatment During Pregnancy on Plasmodium falciparum Drug Resistance-Mediating Polymorphisms in Uganda. Volume 216 of Issue 8. The Journal of infectious diseases 2017. PMID: 28968782

  34. Conrad MD, Mota D, Musiime A, Kilama M, Rek J, Kamya M, Dorsey G, Rosenthal PJ. Comparative Prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum Resistance-Associated Genetic Polymorphisms in Parasites Infecting Humans and Mosquitoes in Uganda. Volume 97 of Issue 5. 2017. PMID: 29016309

  35. Asua V, Tukwasibwe S, Conrad M, Walakira A, Nankabirwa JI, Mugenyi L, Kamya MR, Nsobya SL, Rosenthal PJ. Plasmodium Species Infecting Children Presenting with Malaria in Uganda. 2017. PMID: 28990911

  36. Tukwasibwe S, Tumwebaze P, Conrad M, Arinaitwe E, Kamya MR, Dorsey G, Nsobya SL, Greenhouse B, Rosenthal PJ. Drug resistance mediating Plasmodium falciparum polymorphisms and clinical presentations of parasitaemic children in Uganda. 2017. PMID: 28327148

  37. Tumwebaze P, Tukwasibwe S, Taylor A, Conrad M, Ruhamyankaka E, Asua V, Walakira A, Nankabirwa J, Yeka A, Staedke SG, Greenhouse B, Nsobya SL, Kamya MR, Dorsey G, Rosenthal PJ. Changing Antimalarial Drug Resistance Patterns Identified by Surveillance at Three Sites in Uganda. The Journal of infectious diseases 2017. PMID: 28039354

  38. Taylor AR, Flegg JA, Holmes CC, Guérin PJ, Sibley CH, Conrad MD, Dorsey G, Rosenthal PJ. Artemether-Lumefantrine and Dihydroartemisinin-Piperaquine Exert Inverse Selective Pressure on Plasmodium Falciparum Drug Sensitivity-Associated Haplotypes in Uganda. 2016. PMID: 28480232

  39. Nankabirwa JI, Conrad MD, Legac J, Tukwasibwe S, Tumwebaze P, Wandera B, Brooker SJ, Staedke SG, Kamya MR, Nsobya SL, Dorsey G, Rosenthal PJ. Intermittent Preventive Treatment with Dihydroartemisinin-Piperaquine in Ugandan Schoolchildren Selects for Plasmodium falciparum Transporter Polymorphisms That Modify Drug Sensitivity. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy 2016. PMID: 27401569

  40. Yeka A, Kigozi R, Conrad MD, Lugemwa M, Okui P, Katureebe C, Belay K, Kapella BK, Chang MA, Kamya MR, Staedke SG, Dorsey G, Rosenthal PJ. Artesunate/Amodiaquine Versus Artemether/Lumefantrine for the Treatment of Uncomplicated Malaria in Uganda: A Randomized Trial. The Journal of infectious diseases 2015. PMID: 26597254

  41. Cooper RA, Conrad MD, Watson QD, Huezo SJ, Ninsiima H, Tumwebaze P, Nsobya SL, Rosenthal PJ. Lack of Artemisinin Resistance in Plasmodium falciparum in Uganda Based on Parasitological and Molecular Assays. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy 2015. PMID: 26033725

  42. Tumwebaze P, Conrad MD, Walakira A, LeClair N, Byaruhanga O, Nakazibwe C, Kozak B, Bloome J, Okiring J, Kakuru A, Bigira V, Kapisi J, Legac J, Gut J, Cooper RA, Kamya MR, Havlir DV, Dorsey G, Greenhouse B, Nsobya SL, Rosenthal PJ. Impact of antimalarial treatment and chemoprevention on the drug sensitivity of malaria parasites isolated from ugandan children. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy 2015. PMID: 25753626

  43. Taylor SM, Parobek CM, DeConti DK, Kayentao K, Coulibaly SO, Greenwood BM, Tagbor H, Williams J, Bojang K, Njie F, Desai M, Kariuki S, Gutman J, Mathanga DP, Mårtensson A, Ngasala B, Conrad MD, Rosenthal PJ, Tshefu AK, Moormann AM, Vulule JM, Doumbo OK, Ter Kuile FO, Meshnick SR, Bailey JA, Juliano JJ. Absence of putative artemisinin resistance mutations among Plasmodium falciparum in Sub-Saharan Africa: a molecular epidemiologic study. The Journal of infectious diseases 2014. PMID: 25180240

  44. Conrad MD, Bigira V, Kapisi J, Muhindo M, Kamya MR, Havlir DV, Dorsey G, Rosenthal PJ. Polymorphisms in K13 and falcipain-2 associated with artemisinin resistance are not prevalent in Plasmodium falciparum isolated from Ugandan children. Volume 9 of Issue 8. PloS one 2014. PMID: 25144768

  45. Wanzira H, Kakuru A, Arinaitwe E, Bigira V, Muhindo MK, Conrad M, Rosenthal PJ, Kamya MR, Tappero JW, Dorsey G. Longitudinal outcomes in a cohort of Ugandan children randomized to artemether-lumefantrine versus dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine for the treatment of malaria. Volume 59 of Issue 4. Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America 2014. PMID: 24825870

  46. Mbogo GW, Nankoberanyi S, Tukwasibwe S, Baliraine FN, Nsobya SL, Conrad MD, Arinaitwe E, Kamya M, Tappero J, Staedke SG, Dorsey G, Greenhouse B, Rosenthal PJ. Temporal changes in prevalence of molecular markers mediating antimalarial drug resistance in a high malaria transmission setting in Uganda. Volume 91 of Issue 1. 2014. PMID: 24799371

  47. Nankoberanyi S, Mbogo GW, LeClair NP, Conrad MD, Tumwebaze P, Tukwasibwe S, Kamya MR, Tappero J, Nsobya SL, Rosenthal PJ. Validation of the ligase detection reaction fluorescent microsphere assay for the detection of Plasmodium falciparum resistance mediating polymorphisms in Uganda. 2014. PMID: 24629020

  48. Conrad MD, LeClair N, Arinaitwe E, Wanzira H, Kakuru A, Bigira V, Muhindo M, Kamya MR, Tappero JW, Greenhouse B, Dorsey G, Rosenthal PJ. Comparative impacts over 5 years of artemisinin-based combination therapies on Plasmodium falciparum polymorphisms that modulate drug sensitivity in Ugandan children. Volume 210 of Issue 3. The Journal of infectious diseases 2014. PMID: 24610872

  49. LeClair NP, Conrad MD, Baliraine FN, Nsanzabana C, Nsobya SL, Rosenthal PJ. Optimization of a ligase detection reaction-fluorescent microsphere assay for characterization of resistance-mediating polymorphisms in African samples of Plasmodium falciparum. Journal of clinical microbiology 2013. PMID: 23720790

  50. Conrad MD, Kissinger P, Schmidt N, Martin DH, Carlton JM. Genetic diversity of Trichomonas vaginalis reinfection in HIV-positive women. Volume 89 of Issue 6. 2013. PMID: 23694936

  51. Conrad MD, Bradic M, Warring SD, Gorman AW, Carlton JM. Getting trichy: tools and approaches to interrogating Trichomonas vaginalis in a post-genome world. Volume 29 of Issue 1. 2012. PMID: 23219217

  52. Brotman RM, Bradford LL, Conrad M, Gajer P, Ault K, Peralta L, Forney LJ, Carlton JM, Abdo Z, Ravel J. Association between Trichomonas vaginalis and vaginal bacterial community composition among reproductive-age women. Sexually transmitted diseases 2012. PMID: 23007708

  53. Conrad MD, Gorman AW, Schillinger JA, Fiori PL, Arroyo R, Malla N, Dubey ML, Gonzalez J, Blank S, Secor WE, Carlton JM. Extensive genetic diversity, unique population structure and evidence of genetic exchange in the sexually transmitted parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. Volume 6 of Issue 3. 2012. PMID: 22479659

  54. Reed DL, Currier RW, Walton SF, Conrad M, Sullivan SA, Carlton JM, Read TD, Severini A, Tyler S, Eberle R, Johnson WE, Silvestri G, Clarke IN, Lagergård T, Lukehart SA, Unemo M, Shafer WM, Beasley RP, Bergström T, Norberg P, Davison AJ, Sharp PM, Hahn BH, Blomberg J. The evolution of infectious agents in relation to sex in animals and humans: brief discussions of some individual organisms. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2011. PMID: 21824167

  55. M Conrad, A Gorman, J Schilinger, S Sullivan, J Upcroft, J Gonzalez, P L Fiori, R Arroyo, J Ravel, W E Secor, J Carlton. P4-S3.07 Population genomics of Trichomonas vaginalis reveals a globally distributed two-phylotype population structure. Sexually transmitted infections 2011. PMID:

  56. L Lezeau, M Conrad, A Gorman, J Carlton. P4-S3.09 The prevalence of Trichomonas vaginalis virus (TVV) in globally distributed Trichomonas vaginalis isolates. Sexually transmitted infections 2011. PMID:

  57. Conrad M, Zubacova Z, Dunn LA, Upcroft J, Sullivan SA, Tachezy J, Carlton JM. Microsatellite polymorphism in the sexually transmitted human pathogen Trichomonas vaginalis indicates a genetically diverse parasite. Molecular and biochemical parasitology 2010. PMID: 20813140