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Cambridge Stem Cell Institute



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. Her present research focuses in understanding the host-pathogen interactions that underpin whipworm invasion, colonisation and persistence at the host intestinal epithelia. 


Research interests

My research interests include infectious diseases, host-pathogen interaction and immunology. These interests led me 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. I aim to determine how whipworms invade, colonise and persist in the gut. Using a new model I developed based on “mini-guts”, the first to mimic whipworm infections in a lab dish, together with microscopy and sequencing, I am 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.


Key publications: 
  1. *Duque-Correa MA, et al. Defining the early stages of intestinal colonisation by whipworms. Nat Commun. 2022 Apr 1;13(1):1725. PMID:
  2. 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. PMID: 34538735.
  3. *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.
  4. 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. Contribution: This is the first side-by-side characterisation of small RNAs secreted in extracellular vesicles of two important helminth model organisms. My contribution was in experimental design, result interpretation and manuscript preparation. We continue this collaboration investigating how these sRNAs may underpin functional adaptation of the parasites to their hosts using organoids.
  5. *Duque-Correa MAet al. Organoids – New models for host-helminth interactions. Trends Parasitol. 2020; 36(2):170-181.
  6. 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. Contribution: This publication comprises results of a high-throughput genetic and immunophenotyping screen of 530 mouse knock-out strains as part of the 3i Consortium. Particularly, I led the Trichuris muris challenge. We identified novel monogenic hits with no previous immunological association and established contributions of genetics and structure to immune variation.
  7. 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.
  8. *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.
  9. Gengenbacher M, Duque-Correa MA, et al. NOS2-deficient mice with hypoxic necrotizing lung lesions predict outcomes of tuberculosis chemotherapy in humans. Sci Rep. 2017; 7(1):8853. Contribution: In this study we used a novel murine model reproducing the lung tuberculosis lesions observed in humans to investigate the impact of granuloma hypoxia and necrosis on the efficacy of anti-mycobacterials and drug candidates. Here, I headed the evaluation of granuloma histopathology changes in response to chemotherapy.
  10. Mottram L, [+8 authors], Duque-Correa MA, [+8 authors]. Infection susceptibility in gastric intrinsic factor (Vitamin B12) defective mice is subject to maternal influences. 2016; 7(3):e00830-16. PMC4916386.
  11. Blohmke CJ, [+11 authors], Duque-Correa MA, [+14 authors]. Interferon-driven alterations of the host’s amino acid metabolism in the pathogenesis of typhoid fever. J Exp Med. 2016; 213(6):1061-1077.
  12. Helmstetter C, [+5 authors], Duque-Correa MA, [+7 authors]. Individual T helper cells have a quantitative cytokine memory. 2015; 42(1):108-122. PMC4562415.
  13. Duque-Correa MA, et al. Macrophage arginase-1 controls bacterial growth and pathology in hypoxic tuberculosis granulomas. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014; 111(38):E4024-E4032.
  14. Dorhoi A, [+6 authors], Duque-Correa MA, [+6 authors]. Activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome by Mycobacterium tuberculosis is uncoupled from susceptibility to active tuberculosis. Eur J Immunol. 2012; 42(2):374-384. PMID:
  15. Obregón-Henao A, Duque-Correa MA, et al. Stable Extracellular RNA Fragments of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Induce Early Apoptosis in Human Monocytes via a Caspase-8 Dependent Mechanism. PLoS One. 2012; 7(1):e29970.

*Corresponding author.

Principal Investigator
Maria Duque-Correa
Not available for consultancy