Colleen McClean

Tobin – Lab Members

Headshot of Colleen McCleanMSTP/Immunology Student
219 Jones Building
Box 3020 DUMC
Durham, N.C. 27710
Phone: (919) 684-4652
Fax: (919) 684-2790

Research Interest: Innate Immunology; Host Response; Pulmonology

I grew up on a farm in rural California and moved to the big city to attend the University of California, Berkeley. After completing simultaneous bachelors degrees in Biochemistry (working largely in structural biology labs with honors research in malaria immunology) and Anthropology (authoring a book on the role of self in scientific practice) I moved to Berlin, Germany to work at the Max Plank Institute for Infection Biology examining interactions of helicobacter pylori with other gut microbes. I then completed a Masters of Science in Public Health program in Epidemiology at Emory University and worked on cell-surface interactions in Plasmodium falciparum. I was fortunate to obtain funding to develop and implement an independent project investigating the development and maintenance of transmission-blocking immunity in natural infection with Plasmodium viviax and moved to the Peruvian Amazon to conduct and direct this research. I then took a 3 year break from full time laboratory work and served as a Peace Corps volunteer and WHO specialist in Togo, West Africa working with the Ministry of Health to develop a human subjects research program and institutional review board, teach at the University of Lome Medical School, and implement research, development, and health surveillance programs in one of the worlds poorest regions. Upon my return to the US I became a lecturer in Biochemistry and staff scientist at the University of California, Merced (the youngest research university in the US!) while applying for admission to MD/PhD programs.

As part of the Duke MSTP program I have joined the Tobin lab where I work to understand the role of cholesterol in directing mycobacterial granuloma formation and the immune mechanisms of this control. I also work to study infection at pulmonary epithelial surfaces by developing zebrafish as a model system. I hope this work will prepare me for a career in academic medical research caring for children and adults with complex pulmonary defects and infection.

Outside lab I enjoy thinking about the philosophical and cultural constructions of science and medicine, growing vegetables in my garden, restoring my historic home, and trying to teach my West Africa dog to play fetch. I’m also pretty in to throwing dinner parties and engaging my artistic, outdoorsy, and international sides via all that North Carolina has to offer.


McClean CM, Westenberger SJ, Chattopadhyay R, Dharia NV, Carlton JM, Barnwell JW, Collins WE, Hoffman SL, Zhou Y, Vinetz JM, Winzeler EA. A systems-based analysis of Plasmodium vivax lifecycle transcription from human to mosquito. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2010, 4(4):e653

McClean CM, Alvarado HG, Neyra V, Llanos-Cuentas A, Vinetz JM. Optimized in vitro production of Plasmodium vivax ookinetes Am J Trop Med Hyg 2010, 83(6):1183-6

McClean CM, Silk BJ, Buehler JW, Berkelman RL.  Disease Reporting among Georgia Physicians and Laboratories.  Journal of Public Health Management and Practice 2010, 16(6):535-43

McClean, CM. Science and Self: A Practice of Technology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005

Dharia NV, Bright AT, Westenberger SJ, Barnes SW, Batalov S, Kuhen K, Borboa R, Federe GC, McClean CM, Vinetz JM, Neyra V, Llanos-Cuentas A, Barnwell JW, Walker JR, Winzeler EA. Whole-genome sequencing and microarray analysis of ex vivo Plasmodium vivax reveal selective pressure on putative drug resistance genes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010, 107(46):20045-50. Epub 2010 Oct 29.

Bounkeua VN, Li F , Abeles SR, McClean CM, Neyra V, Llanos-Cuentas A, Yori P, Vinetz JM. Lack of association of in vitro Plasmodium vivax ookinete development with gametocyte maturity or sex ratio. Am J Trop Med Hyg 2011, 85(2): 207–213.