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HomeFaculty › Sean Murphy, MD, PhD

Sean Murphy, MD, PhD

photo Dr. Sean Murphy

Acting Assistant Professor , Laboratory Medicine
University of Washington;
Assistant Director, Clinical Microbiology Laboratory
UW Medical Center ;
Clinical Investigator, Malaria Clinical Trials Center
Seattle Biomedical Research Institute

Contact Information

University of Washington
Department of Laboratory Medicine, NW120
Box 357110
1959 Pacific St.
Seattle, WA 98195-7110


Dr. Murphy's work focuses on human malaria infection. Human and animals can be protected against malaria sporozoites challenge by immunization with attenuated Plasmodium sporozoites. The protective responses induced by these immunizations remain largely unknown because it is extremely difficult to simultaneously monitor responses against hundreds of potential antigens. In collaboration with Michael Bevan (UW/HHMI), Brad Stone (Benaroya Research Institute) and investigators at the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, Dr. Murphy studies this complex poly-specific T cell repertoire induced by Plasmodium sporozoites using mouse models of malaria infection and novel high-throughput T cell screening technologies.

A major goal of this work is to identify protective antigens in mice, validate the orthologous antigens in human subjects and develop multi-component subunit vaccines that target the pre-erythrocytic stage of malaria infection. Such vaccines could accelerate the development of effective vaccines for the eradication of malaria. The development of high-throughput tools for T cell antigen discovery would also have broad implications for other infectious and autoimmune diseases and our group is exploring several such possibilities. Dr. Murphy also directs a clinical pathology group devoted to molecular diagnosis of malaria infections. This work supports malaria human challenge trials and allows for detection of malaria parasites in human blood up to 3-4 days earlier than by conventional blood smears.


Dr. Murphy is Acting Assistant Professor of Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington. He is Assistant Director of the clinical microbiology laboratory in Laboratory Medicine at the University of Washington Medical Center, which provides testing for infectious diseases. Dr. Murphy is also a clinical investigator with the Malaria Clinical Trials Center at Seattle Biomedical Research Institute.

Representative recent publications

  1. Marvin RG, Wolford JL, Kidd MJ, Murphy S, Ward J, Que EL, Mayer ML, Penner-Hahn JE, Haldar K, O'Halloran TV. 2012. Fluxes in "free" and total zinc are essential for progression of intraerythrocytic stages of Plasmodium falciparum. Chem Biol. 19(6):731-41. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2012.04.013.
  2. Murphy SC, Daza G, Chang M, Coombs R. Laser cutting eliminates nucleic acid cross-contamination in dried-blood-spot processing. 2012. J Clin Microbiol. 50(12):4128-30. doi: 10.1128/JCM.02549-12. PubMed PMID: 23052309; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3503017.
  3. Murphy SC, Kas A, Stone BC, Bevan MJ. 2013. A T-cell response to a liver-stage Plasmodium antigen is not boosted by repeated sporozoite immunizations. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23530242.
  4. Murphy SC, Prentice JL, Williamson K, Wallis CK, Fang FC, Fried M, Pinzon C, Wang R, Talley AK, Kappe SHI, Duffy PE, Cookson BT. 2012. Real-time quantitative reverse transcription PCR for monitoring of blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum infections in malaria human challenge trials. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 86(3):383–94.
  5. Murphy SC, Hoogestraat DR, SenGupta DJ, Prentice J, Chakrapani A, Cookson BT. 2011. Molecular diagnosis of cystoisosporiasis using extended range PCR screening. J Mol Diagn. 13(3):359-62.
  6. Haldar K, Murphy SC, Milner DA, Taylor TE. 2007. Malaria: mechanisms of erythrocytic infection and pathological correlates of severe disease. Annual Review of Pathology: Mechanisms of Disease. 2: 217-49.
  7. Murphy SC, Fernandez-Pol S, Chung PH, Murthy SNP, Milne SB, Salomao M, Brown HA, Lomasney JW, Narla M, Haldar K. 2007. Cytoplasmic remodeling of erythrocyte raft lipids during infection by the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Blood. 110(6):2132-9.
  8. Murphy SC, Harrison T, Lomasney J, Hamm H, Mohandas N, Haldar K. 2006. Erythrocyte G protein as a novel target for malarial chemotherapy. PLoS Med. 3(12):e528.
  9. Murphy SC, Hiller NL, Harrison T, Lomasney JW, Mohandas N, Haldar K. 2006. Lipid rafts and malaria parasite infection of erythrocytes (review). Molecular Membrane Biology. 23(1):81-88.
  10. Murphy SC, Samuel BU, Harrison T, Speicher KD, Speicher DW, Reid ME, Prohaska R, Low PS, Tanner MJ, Mohandas N, Haldar K. 2004. Erythrocyte detergent-resistant membrane proteins: their characterization and selective uptake during malarial infection. Blood. 103(5):1920-8.
  11. Murphy SC, Breman JG. 2001. Gaps in the childhood malaria burden in Africa: cerebral malaria, neurological sequelae, anemia, respiratory distress, hypoglycemia and complications of pregnancy. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 64(Supp 1-2):57-67.

Last updated: 04/01/2013

HomeFaculty › Sean Murphy, MD, PhD

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