Dr Simon Babayan - Research Interests

Contact details:
Room 314, Graham Kerr Building
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine
College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences
University of Glasgow
G12 8QQ

Tel.: 0141 330 6638
Fax: 0141 330 5971
E-mail:  Simon.Babayan@glasgow.ac.uk

For recent grants and publications, please visit my Institute profile page.

Research interests

I am interested in the mechanisms that underlie protective immunity and disease: the phenotypes immune cells adopt to mitigate disease, and how to detect and quantify protective immune profiles in laboratory models, domesticated animals, and in natural populations. To make progress in my overarching goal of improving medical interventions against infectious disease, I am following three intertwined lines of research:

  • how do immune-mediated host-parasite interactions affect parasite fitness? (protective immunity vs. parasite immune evasion)
  • how does the immune system integrate the myriad sources of natural variation to maintain health? (wild immunology)
  • how to design safe and effective vaccines? (nature-proof vaccines)

More specifically, I study how parasitic helminths are affected by host immune responses as a function of parasite immune evasion and immune protective efficacy; how protective immunity is effected by variation in host sex, nutrition, age, and coinfection; and for the past few years I have been developing anti-filarial vaccines that target parasite immune modulators and thus limit the ability of these worms to evade host immune responses.

To address these questions, I combine lab-based and field-based studies. The former allow the analysis of molecular and cellular responses to tightly controlled infections, diets and age structures, whereas the latter give insight into how such responses affect population-level dynamics such as morbidity/mortality rates and disease transmission.

This work therefore bridges a number of disciplines - mainly parasitology, immunology, ecology, and computational biology - and requires (attempting at least some) integration of immunity at the molecular, cellular, organismal, and population levels.
Recent publications


  1. Babayan S. A., Luo H. L., Gray N., Taylor D. W.,  Allen J. E. (2012) Deletion of parasite immune modulatory sequences combined with immune activating signals enhances vaccine mediated protection against filarial nematodes. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 6: e1968
  2. Babayan S. A. and Schneider D. S. (2012). Immunity in society: diverse solutions to common problems. PLoS Biology 10: e1001297
  3. Babayan S. A., Allen J. E. and Taylor D. W. (2012). Future prospects & challenges of vaccines against filariasis. Parasite Immunol 34: 243-253
  4. Little T. J., Allen J. E., Babayan S. A., Matthews K. R. and Colegrave N. (2012). Harnessing evolutionary biology to combat infectious disease. Nature Med. 18, 217–220
  5. Babayan, S. A., Allen, J. E., Bradley, J. E., Geuking, M. B., Graham, A. L., Grencis, R. K., Kaufman, J., McCoy, K. D., Paterson, S., Smith, K. G., Turnbaugh, P. J., Viney, M. E., Maizels, R. M., and Pedersen, A. B. (2011). Wild immunology: converging on the real world. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 1236(1), 17-29
  6. Coltherd J. C., Babayan S. A., Bünger L., Kyriazakis I., Allen J. E., Houdijk J. G. M. (2011). Interactive effects of protein nutrition, genetic growth potential, and Heligmosomoides bakeri infection pressure on resilience, resistance and serum antibodies in mice. Parasitology 138, 1305-1315
  7. Pedersen A. B. and Babayan S. A. (2011). Wild Immunology. Mol Ecol 20: 872-880
  8. Babayan S. A., Read A. F., Lawrence  R. A., Bain O.,  Allen J. E. (2010). Filarial Parasites Develop Faster and Reproduce Earlier in Response to Host Immune Effectors Which Determine Filarial Life Expectancy. PloS Biology, 8(10): e1000525
  9. Coltherd J. C., Babayan S. A., Bunger L., Kyriazakis I., Allen J. E. and Houdijk J. G. M.(2009). Immune responses to macroparasites are sensitive to the interaction between genetic growth potential and protein nutrition in mice. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 68 (OCE), E101 [Not peer-reviewed]
  10. Attout T., Martin C., Babayan S.A., Kozek W.J., Bazzocchi C., Oudet F., Gallagher I.J., Specht S., and Bain O. (2008). Pleural cellular reaction to the filarial infection Litomosoides sigmodontis is determined by the moulting process, the worm alteration, and the host strain. Parasitology international. 57, 201-211
  11. Houston K.M., Babayan S.A., Allen J.E., and Harnett W. (2008). Does Litomosoides sigmodontis synthesize dimethylethanolamine from choline? Parasitology. 135, 55-61
  12. Taylor M.D., Harris A., Babayan S.A., Bain O., Culshaw A., Allen J.E., and Maizels R.M. (2007). CTLA-4 and CD4+CD25+ Regulatory T Cells Inhibit Protective Immunity to Filarial Parasites In Vivo. J Immunol. 179, 4626-4634
  13. Babayan S.A., Attout T., Harris A., Taylor M.D., Le Goff L., Vuong P.N., Renia L., Allen J.E., and Bain O. (2006). Vaccination against filarial nematodes with irradiated larvae provides long-term protection against the third larval stage but not against subsequent life cycle stages. Int J Parasitol. 36, 903-914
  14. Babayan S.A., Attout T., Vuong P.N., Le Goff L., Gantier J.C., and Bain O. (2005). The subcutaneous movements of filarial infective larvae are impaired in vaccinated hosts in comparison to primary infected hosts. Filaria J. 4, 3
  15. Attout T., Babayan S., Hoerauf A., Taylor D., Kozek W., Martin C., and Bain O. (2005). Blood-feeding in the young adult filarial worms Litomosoides sigmodontis. Parasitology. 130, 421-428
  16. Babayan S., Attout T., Specht S., Hoerauf A., Snounou G., Renia L., Korenaga M., Bain O., and Martin C. (2005). Increased early local immune responses and altered worm development in high-dose infections of mice susceptible to the filaria Litomosoides sigmodontis. Med Microbiol Immunol (Berl). 194, 151-162
  17. Babayan S., Ungeheuer M., Martin C., Attout T., Belnoue E., Snounou G., Renia L., Korenaga M., and Bain O. (2003). Resistance and susceptibility to filarial infection with Litomosoides sigmodontis are associated with early differences in parasite development and in localized immune reactions. Infection and Immunity. 71, 6820-6829
  18. Bain O., Guerrero R., Rodriguez B., Babayan S., and Jouvenet N. (2003). Examination of type material of two species of Litomosoides (Filarioidea: Onchocercidae), parasites from bats; taxonomic consequences. Parasite. 10, 211-8
  19. Bain O., and Babayan S. (2003). Behaviour of filariae: morphological and anatomical signatures of their life style within the arthropod and vertebrate hosts. Filaria J. 2, 16
  20. Bain O., Babayan S., Gomes J., Rojas G., and Guerrero R. (2002). First account on the larval biology of a Litomosoides filaria, from a bat. Parassitologia. 44, 89-92
  21. Martin C., Saeftel M., Vuong P.N., Babayan S., Fischer K., Bain O., and Hoerauf A. (2001). B-cell deficiency suppresses vaccine-induced protection against murine filariasis but does not increase the recovery rate for primary infection. Infection and Immunity. 69, 7067-7073