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Cambridge Stem Cell Institute



Dr Maria Duque-Correa

Tissue damage, regeneration and stem cell perturbation by parasitic worms



Dr Maria Duque-Correa completed her studies of Biology at the University of Antioquia in Colombia, where her undergraduate thesis focused on the role of macrophage activation in Mycobacterium tuberculosis control. She then went to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, USA to work as a research associate in projects investigating the effect of age on macrophage and dendritic cell responses during cancer. Afterwards, Dr Duque-Correa undertook a PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, Germany. Her PhD thesis studied the role of macrophage arginase in granuloma immunopathology during M. tuberculosis infection.

For her postdoctoral studies, Maria joined the Wellcome Sanger Institute where she investigated host-parasite interactions that drive immune responses to whipworms (Trichuris sp). During her postdoc, Maria was funded first by a Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowship and then, by a transition to independence David Sainsbury Fellowship from the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research. Awarded a Wellcome Sir Henry Dale Fellowship, Maria started her own research group at the Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease at the University of Cambridge in January 2022, and joined the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute as Principal Investigator in September 2022.



Wellcome, Isaac Newton Trust, Rosetrees Trust

Research interests

Maria’s research interests include infectious diseases, host-pathogen interaction and immunology. These interests led her to study tuberculosis, Chagas disease and trichuriasis. Trichuriasis is a major neglected tropical disease, affecting 500 million people worldwide, and caused by infection with whipworms. Whipworms are large parasites that live inside the gut lining. Whipworms remain in their host for years by interacting with the gut lining and surrounding cells to manipulate gut structure and immune responses. How the parasite mediates these interactions is not understood. Maria’s lab aims to determine how whipworms invade, colonise and persist in the gut. Using a new model she developed based on “mini-guts”, the first to mimic whipworm infections in a lab dish, together with microscopy and sequencing, they are characterising: 1) the molecular and cellular changes that happen in the whipworm and the gut lining and surrounding cells when the parasite enters and colonises the gut and; 2) the interactions that allow the parasite to persist and the gut lining to repair during chronic infections. This knowledge will open new avenues to eradicate whipworm infections and control gut inflammatory diseases.


Duque-Correa Group photo 2023


Watch Maria Duque-Correa:


Video recorded for Cambridge Festival 2023 as part of activities on ‘Changing Pathogens in a Changing World’, organised by the School of Biological Sciences.


Selected Publications                                                                         

  1. Coghlan A+, Partridge FA+, Duque-Correa MA+, [+12 authors]. A drug repurposing screen for whipworms informed by comparative genomics. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2023, 17(9): e0011205. +Shared First Authorship. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0011205
  2. White R, Blow F, Buck, AH and Duque-Correa MA*. Organoids as tools to investigate gastrointestinal nematode development and host interactions. Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol. 2022, 12;12:976017. DOI: 10.3389/fcimb.2022.976017
  3. Duque-Correa MA, et al. Defining the early stages of intestinal colonisation by whipworms. Nat Commun. 2022, 1;13(1):1725. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-29334-0
  4. Mkandawire, T, Grencis RK, Berriman, M and *Duque-Correa MA. Hatching of Parasitic Nematode Eggs: A Crucial Step Determining Infection. Trends Parasitol. 2022, 38(2):174-187. DOI: 10.1016/
  5. Duque-Correa MA, et al. Development of caecaloids to study host-pathogen interactions: new insights into immunoregulatory functions of Trichuris muris extracellular vesicles in the caecum. Int J Parasitol. 2020; 50(9):707-718. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2020.06.001
  6. White R, [+5 authors], Duque-Correa MA and Buck A. Extracellular vesicles from Heligmosomoides bakeri and Trichuris muris contain distinct microRNA families and small RNAs that could underpin different functions in the host. Int J Parasitol. 2020; 50(9):719-729. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2020.06.002
  7. Duque-Correa MA, et al. Organoids – New models for host-helminth interactions. Trends Parasitol. 2020; 36(2):170-181. DOI: 10.1016/
  8. Abeler-Dörner L, [+5 authors], Duque-Correa MA, [+51 authors]. High-throughput phenotyping reveals expansive genetic and structural underpinnings of immune variation. Nat Immunol. 2020; 21(1):86-100. DOI: 10.1038/s41590-019-0549-0
  9. Doyle SR, [+5 authors], Duque-Correa MA, [+18 authors]. Evaluation of DNA extraction methods on individual helminth egg and larval stages for whole genome sequencing. Front Genet. 2019; 10:826. DOI: 10.3389/fgene.2019.00826
  10. Duque-Correa MA, et al. Exclusive dependence of IL-10Ra signalling on intestinal microbiota homeostasis and control of whipworm infection. PLoS Pathog. 2019;15(1):e1007265. DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007265

*Corresponding author.

The Duque-Correa Group

Duque-Correa Group members: 

Klara Stark
Charlotte Tolley


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