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Dr. V. Arun Nagaraj


Degree University/Institution
MSc. in Medical BiochemistryJIPMER, Pondicherry University.
Ph.D.Dept. of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

Work Experience

Position University/Organisation Period
Scientist-EInstitute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar, India.Jan 2020 onwards
Scientist-DInstitute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar, India.Nov 2015 - Dec 2019
Ramanujan FellowCentre for Infectious Disease Research & Department of Biochemistry, IISc, Bangalore, India.Nov 2010 - Oct 2015
Postdoctoral Research FellowSchool of Biological Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.Jan 2010 - Sep 2010
Research AssociateSchool of Biological Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.Sep 2009 - Dec 2009

Awards & Recognition



Received National Academy of Vector Borne Diseases (NAVBD) Award for Outstanding Contribution on Molecular Biology from National Academy of Vector Borne Diseases, February 2017.

Global Health Travel Award funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to attend Keystone Symposia on “The Science of Malaria Eradication” held at Mexico in February, 2014.

Awarded Ramanujan Fellowship for the year 2010 by Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India.

Prof. Giri Memorial Medal, Institute of science, Bangalore for the Best Ph.D. Thesis of the year 2009-2010, Dept. of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of science, Bangalore.

Dr. A. S. Perumal Award, Indian Institute of science, Bangalore for the Best Performance in Research Training Program, Dept. of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of science, Bangalore.

Sathya Bhama Award, JIPMER, Pondicherry University for the Best Outgoing Student (2003).

Best Outgoing Student Award (2000), Sri Sankara Arts and Science College, Madras University

Other Recognitions

Reviewer for BIRAC’s Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) scheme

Invited Reviewer for Nature Communications, Scientific Reports, Journal of Bacteriology & Parasitology, Molecular Biotechnology, Experimental Parasitology, and Infection and Immunity

Member of Doctoral Advisory Committee, Manipal University (2013-2015)



Parasitism relies on the successful exploitation of host cell resources through a wide range of crosstalk accomplished between host and parasite metabolic networks. Given the complexity of Plasmodium life cycle that alternates between vertebrate (human) and invertebrate (mosquito) hosts, the ease with which the malaria parasite contends different host environments remain astounding. While many studies have revealed these aspects in the asexual stages residing in human RBCs, the host-parasite interactions in the sexual and liver stages are yet to be explored in detail. Interestingly, the host niches of sexual and liver stages differ significantly from metabolically inert RBCs circulating in nutrient-rich plasma. Also, the molecular events underlying the parasite development and differentiation in the mosquito and liver stages are poorly understood.

Our laboratory is interested in understanding the molecular events that are involved in the sexual and liver stage development of Plasmodium using P. falciparum (human malaria parasite) as an in vitro model and P. berghei (rodent malaria parasite) as an in vivo model to study the entire life cycle of malaria parasite. We combine genetic, biochemical and molecular biological approaches to decipher the significance of metabolic pathways and metabolic adaptability of Plasmodium in the sexual and liver stages thereby, identifying the limiting metabolites and nutrients that become essential for the survival of parasite.

Our studies on heme and amino acid pathways of malaria parasite have revealed the existence of unique requirements in the sexual and liver stages that are critical for parasite development and therefore, disease transmission. Further, PbALAS (first enzyme in heme-biosynthetic pathway) knockout sporozoites could be explored as a potential genetically-attenuated vaccine candidate for liver stages in mouse model. Also, we are trying to understand the physiological relevance of transporters in the malaria parasite. To summarize, understanding host-parasite interactions at the level of nutritional requirements together with the transport mechanisms that are involved in the host-parasite interplay would help to identify the essential components required for parasite survival and give insights into basic parasite biology. The depletion of these essential components and prevention of their uptake would provide novel intervention strategies and new targets to interfere with disease progression and transmission. Of late, we have also started examining the molecular re-programming events occurring in Plasmodium that are responsible for disease virulence.




1) Ghosh, S., Kundu, R., Chandana, M., Das, R., Anand, A., Beura, S., Bobde, R.C., Jain, V., Prabhu, S.R., Behera, P.K., Mohanty, A.K., Chakrapani, M., Satyamoorthy, K., Suryawanshi, A.R., Dixit, A., Padmanaban, G. & Nagaraj, V.A. (2023). Distinct evolution of type I glutamine synthetase in Plasmodium and its species-specific requirement. Nature Communications, 14, 4216.
2) Singh, N., Chatterjee, A., Chanu, W. K., Vaishalli, P. M., Singh C.B. & Nagaraj, V.A. (2023). Antimalarial activity of Toona ciliata MJ Roem aqueous methanolic leaf extract and its antioxidant and phytochemical properties. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. (In Press).
3) Anand, A., Chandana, M., Ghosh, S., Das, R., Singh, N., Vaishalli, P. M., Gantasala, N. P., Padmanaban, G. & Nagaraj, V.A. (2023). Significance of Plasmodium berghei Amino Acid Transporter 1 in Food Vacuole Functionality and Its Association with Cerebral Pathogenesis. Microbiology Spectrum, 11(2), e04943-22.
4) Chatterjee, A., Singh, N., Chanu, W.K., Singh, C.B. & Nagaraj, V.A. (2022). Phytochemical screening, cytotoxicity assessment and evaluation of in vitro antiplasmodial and in vivo antimalarial activities of Mentha spicata L. methanolic leaf extract. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 298, 115636.
5) Chandana, M., Anand, A., Ghosh, S., Das, R., Beura, S., Jena, S., Suryawanshi, A.R., Padmanaban, G. & Nagaraj, V.A. (2022). Malaria parasite heme biosynthesis promotes and griseofulvin protects against cerebral malaria in mice. Nature Communications, 13, 4028.
6) Suravajhala, R., Parashar, A., Choudhir, G., Kumar, A., Malik, B., Nagaraj, V.A., Padmanaban, G., Polavarapu, R., Suravajhala, P. & Kishor, P. K. (2021). Molecular docking and dynamics studies of curcumin with COVID-19 proteins. Network Modeling Analysis in Health Informatics and Bioinformatics, 10(1), 44.
7) Padmanaban, G. and Nagaraj, V.A. (2020). Hydroxychloroquine – A Relatively Obscure Antimalarial Takes Centre Stage in COVID-19. Current Science, 118 (10), 1489-1491.
8) Raju, L.S., Kamath, S., Shetty, M.C., Satpathi, S., Mohanty, A.K., Ghosh, S.K., Kolluri, N., Klapperich, C.M., Cabodi, M., Padmanaban, G. & Nagaraj, V. A. (2019). Genome Mining–Based Identification of Identical Multirepeat Sequences in Plasmodium falciparum Genome for Highly Sensitive Real-Time Quantitative PCR Assay and Its Application in Malaria Diagnosis. The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, 21(5), 824-838.
9. Dende, C., Meena, J., Nagarajan, P., Nagaraj, V.A., Panda, A.K., & Padmanaban, G. (2017). Nanocurcumin is superior to native curcumin in preventing degenerative changes in Experimental Cerebral Malaria. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 10062.
10) Nagaraj, V.A., & Padmanaban, G. (2017). Insights on heme synthesis in the malaria parasite. Trends in Parasitology, 33(8), 583-586.
11) Padmanaban, G., & Nagaraj, V.A. (2017). Curcumin may defy medicinal chemists. ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 8(3), 274-274.
12) Nagaraj, V.A., Mukhi, D., Sathishkumar, V., Subramani, P.A., Ghosh, S.K., Pandey, R. R., Shetty, M.C. & Padmanaban, G. (2015). Asparagine requirement in Plasmodium berghei as a target to prevent malaria transmission and liver infections. Nature Communications, 6(1), 8775.
13) Varadarajan, N.M., Sundaram, B., Subramani, P.A., Kalappa, D.M., Ghosh, S.K., & Nagaraj, V.A. (2014). Plasmodium berghei glycine cleavage system T-protein is non-essential for parasite survival in vertebrate and invertebrate hosts. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 197(1-2), 50-55.
14) Sundaram, B., Varadarajan, N. M., Subramani, P. A., Ghosh, S. K., & Nagaraj, V.A. (2014). Purification of a recombinant histidine-tagged lactate dehydrogenase from the malaria parasite, Plasmodium vivax, and characterization of its properties. Biotechnology Letters, 36, 2473-2480.
15) Nagaraj, V.A., Sundaram, B., Varadarajan, N.M., Subramani, P.A., Kalappa, D.M., Ghosh, S.K., & Padmanaban, G. (2013). Malaria parasite-synthesized heme is essential in the mosquito and liver stages and complements host heme in the blood stages of infection. PLoS Pathogens, 9(8), e1003522.
16) Padmanaban, G., Nagaraj, V.A., & Rangarajan, P.N. (2012). Artemisinin-based combination with curcumin adds a new dimension to malaria therapy. Current Science, 704-711.
17) Vathsala, P. G., Dende, C., Nagaraj, V.A., Bhattacharya, D., Das, G., Rangarajan, P. N., & Padmanaban, G. (2012). Curcumin-arteether combination therapy of Plasmodium berghei-infected mice prevents recrudescence through immunomodulation. PloS One, 7(1), e29442.
18) Nagaraj, V.A., Arumugam, R., Prasad, D., Rangarajan, P.N., & Padmanaban, G. (2010). Protoporphyrinogen IX oxidase from Plasmodium falciparum is anaerobic and is localized to the mitochondrion. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 174(1), 44-52.
19) Nagaraj, V.A., Prasad, D., Arumugam, R., Rangarajan, P. N., & Padmanaban, G. (2010). Characterization of coproporphyrinogen III oxidase in Plasmodium falciparum cytosol. Parasitology International, 59(2), 121-127.
20) Nagaraj, V.A., Prasad, D., Rangarajan, P. N., & Padmanaban, G. (2009). Mitochondrial localization of functional ferrochelatase from Plasmodium falciparum. Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology, 168(1), 109-112.
21) Nagaraj, V.A., Arumugam, R., Chandra, N. R., Prasad, D., Rangarajan, P.N., & Padmanaban, G. (2009). Localisation of Plasmodium falciparum uroporphyrinogen III decarboxylase of the heme-biosynthetic pathway in the apicoplast and characterisation of its catalytic properties. International Journal for Parasitology, 39(5), 559-568.
22) Nagaraj, V.A., Arumugam, R., Gopalakrishnan, B., Jyothsna, Y. S., Rangarajan, P. N., & Padmanaban, G. (2008). Unique properties of Plasmodium falciparum porphobilinogen deaminase. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 283(1), 437-444.
23) Padmanaban, G., Nagaraj, V.A., & Rangarajan, P. N. (2007). An alternative model for heme biosynthesis in the malarial parasite. Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 32(10), 443-449.
24) Padmanaban, G., Nagaraj, V.A., & Rangarajan, P. N. (2007). Drugs and drug targets against malaria. Current Science, 1545-1555.
25) Nandakumar, D.N., Nagaraj, V.A., Vathsala, P.G., Rangarajan, P., & Padmanaban, G. (2006). Curcumin-artemisinin combination therapy for malaria. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 50(5), 1859-1860.

Book Chapters

1) Padmanaban, G. and Nagaraj, V.A. (2017). Curcumin from turmeric as an adjunct drug? In: Studies in Natural Products Chemistry, Bioactive Natural Products. Edited by Atta-ur-Rahman. Volume 57, 2018, Pages 179-202.

2) Nagaraj, V.A., Rangarajan, P.N. and Padmanaban, G. (2014). Porphyrin Metabolism. Encyclopedia of Malaria. Springer, Edited by Hommel, M. and Kremsner. P.G. 1-11.

3) Padmanaban, G., Nagaraj, V.A. and Rangarajan, P.N. (2013). Unique Features of heme biosynthesis in the malaria parasite. Handbook of Porphyrin Science. With Applications to Chemistry, Physics, Materials Science, Engineering, Biology and Medicine. World Scientific Publishers, Edited by Kadish, K.M., Smith, K.M., Guilard,  R. and Ferreira, G.C. 27, 168-205.

List of patents granted/filed:

1) A pharmaceutical composition to combat artemisinin resistance in malaria. Indian Patent Application No. 202231018911.
2) A pharmaceutical composition to combat artemisinin resistance in malaria. PCT Application No. PCT/IN2023/050301.
3) Griseofulvin as an adjunct drug for the treatment of cerebral and severe malaria. Indian Patent Application No. 202031050934.
4) Griseofulvin as an adjunct drug for the treatment of cerebral and severe malaria. PCT Application No. PCT/IN2021/051071.
5) A combination antimalarial drug therapy with curcumin and artemisinin. Indian Patent Application No. 1612/CHE/2005.
6) Antimalarial Drug Containing Synergistic Combination of Curcumin and Artemisinin. U.S. Patent No. US 7,776,911 B2.
7) Nucleotide sequence, A method and kit thereof. Indian Patent Application no: 893/CHE/2013.



Aditya Anand

DST-Inspire Fellow

Sourav Ghosh

Junior Research Fellow

Chandana Shetty

Junior Research Fellow

P.M. Vaishalli

Junior Research Fellow

Subhashree Beura

Lab Technician



Research Grants

1) Evaluation of safety and efficacy of curcumin (Biocurcumax capsule) as an adjunct drug to standard therapy [(Artesunate) + (Sulfadoxine-Pyrimethamine) tablet] for treatment of uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria. Phase-IIa Double-blind Clinical Trial. DBT. 2020-2024. (Principal Investigator for ILS; In collaboration with NIMR, New Delhi, Ipca Laboratories Ltd., Mumbai, Arjuna Naturals Pvt Ltd., Aluva, Ispat General Hospital, Rourkela and Shaheed Hospital, Dalli Rajhara)

2) Screening of Plant Extracts from North East for Identifying Phytochemicals with Potent Antimalarial Activity against Asexual, Sexual and Liver stages of Malaria Parasite. DBT. 2020-2023.(Principal Investigator for ILS; In collaboration with IBSD, Imphal)

3) Amino acid requirements in the sexual and liver stages of malaria parasite – An immutable and versatile target for malaria transmission. DST-SERB. 2017-2020 (Principal Investigator)

4) Malaria Parasite Biology – An Avenue to Discover New Drug Targets. DBT. 2016-2020. ( In collaboration with Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore & Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore)

5) An Innovative Algorithm-Based Detection of  Identical Multi-Repeat Sequences (IMRS) in the Genome of Plasmodium and its Validation in Malaria Diagnostics. BIRAC. 2014-2016. (In collaboration with Jigsaw Biosolutions, Bangalore)

6) Exploring the New Facets of Plasmodium Biology to Identify Potential Drug Targets. DST Ramanujan Fellowship. 2010-2015.

7) Generation of Prototype Lateral Flow Assay Kit using Antigen Specific Hybridomas to Develop Rapid Diagnostic Test for Clinical Diagnosis of Malaria. DBT-SBIRI. 2012-2015. (In collaboration with Indian Immunologicals, Hyderabad)

8) Deciphering the Functional Significance of Rab-mediated Vesicular Trafficking Processes in Malaria Parasite. DST-FAST TRACK. 2012-2015.

Also, there is Intramural Support from ILS.


arun@ils.res.inLab No: 9, Infectious Disease Biology, Institute of Life Sciences, Nalco Square, Bhubaneswar-751023, India.0091 674 2300728Lab: +91 674 2304292; Office: +91 674 2304317



Media coverages:

1) Therapeutic interventions to prevent malaria mortality found in Odisha. February 22, 2023. The New Indian Express.
2) Indian scientists successfully conduct animal trial of drug for malaria. February 23, 2023. Hindustan Times.
3) “Diagnostics for asymptomatic malaria” published in the Science section of The Hindu BusinessLine and Vigyanprasar dated February 27, 2020.
4) “Indigenous malaria vaccine shows promise in mice studies”, S&T, The Hindu, April 17, 2014.
5) “Knocking down the malaria causing parasite”, S&T, The Hindu, August 22, 2013.
6) Malaria Parasite-synthesized Heme is Essential in the Mosquito and Liver Stages and Complements Host Heme in the Blood Stages of Infection. Recommended in F1000 Microbiology for new finding and novel drug target.



At present, our laboratory is looking for enthusiastic Post-doctoral fellows and Junior Research Fellows who are willing to work on the fascinating biology of malaria parasite and make a significant contribution towards understanding the developmental aspects of Plasmodium transmission stages, transmission biology, disease virulence etc. For Post-doctoral positions, those who are having fellowships may email their resume to  Candidates willing to apply for post-doctoral fellowships of various funding agencies may also email their research interest on Plasmodium biology. Preference will be given to those who are having molecular parasitology/immunology/vector biology background. For JRF positions, candidates can look at ILS website for advertisements related to current openings.