Thomas Wellems, M.D., Ph.D.

Malaria Genetics Section

Established in 1991

Rockville, MD

Thomas E. Wellems, M.D., Ph.D.

Chief, Malaria Genetics Section

Contact: For contact information, search the NIH Enterprise Directory.

Specialty(s): Internal Medicine

Thomas Wellems, M.D., Ph.D.

Major Areas of Research

  • Antimalarial drug responses and factors that affect clinical outcome after treatment
  • Malaria parasite genetics and molecular biology of pathogenesis

Program Description

Investigations in the Malaria Genetics Section (MGS) focus on the determinants of drug responses and the biology of disease processes in malaria. Areas of particular interest include:

  • Antimalarial drug resistance and factors that affect clinical outcome after treatment
  • Malaria protection conferred by the human hemoglobinopathies and other red cell polymorphisms
  • Antigenic variation of malaria parasites
  • Comparative studies of Plasmodium species including P. falciparum, P. vivax, and P. knowlesi

Research activities in the MGS extend to collaborations with scientists overseas. Inquiries about postbaccalaureate and postdoctoral fellowships are welcome.



M.D., Ph.D., The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Dr. Wellems received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and completed his residency in internal medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. In 1984, he joined the NIAID Division of Intramural Research where he studies the drug responses and disease biology of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. Findings from his research include the transporter molecule responsible for P. falciparum chloroquine resistance (PfCRT), the molecules responsible for antigenic variation and immune evasion by P. falciparum (var genes), a mechanism for sickle-cell trait protection against malaria, and the PfHRP-II protein used for malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs).  Dr. Wellems holds elected memberships in the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a past president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and he has served on numerous advisory committees for foundations and public-private partnerships, including the Medicines for Malaria Venture.

For a biographical profile of Dr. Wellems, see Davis TH. Profile of Thomas E. Wellems. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Aug 3;107(31):13567-9.

Selected Publications

Connelly SV, Manzella-Lapeira J, Levine ZC, Brzostowski J, Krymskaya L, Rahman RS, Ellis AC, Amin SN, Sá JM, Wellems TE. Restructured Mitochondrial-Nuclear Interaction in Plasmodium falciparum Dormancy and Persister Survival after Artemisinin Exposure. mBio. 2021 Jun 29;12(3):e0075321. 

Moraes Barros RR, Thawnashom K, Gibson TJ, Armistead JS, Caleon RL, Kaneko M, Kite WA, Mershon JP, Brockhurst JK, Engels T, Lambert L, Orr-Gonzalez S, Adams JH, Sá JM, Kaneko O, Wellems TE. Activity of Plasmodium vivax promoter elements in Plasmodium knowlesi, and a centromere-containing plasmid that expresses NanoLuc throughout the parasite life cycle. Malar J. 2021 Jun 5;20(1):247. 

Wellems TE, Sá JM, Su XZ, Connelly SV, Ellis AC. 'Artemisinin Resistance': Something New or Old? Something of a Misnomer? Trends Parasitol. 2020 Sep;36(9):735-744. 

Sá JM, Kaslow SR, Moraes Barros RR, Brazeau NF, Parobek CM, Tao D, Salzman RE, Gibson TJ, Velmurugan S, Krause MA, Melendez-Muniz V, Kite WA, Han PK, Eastman RT, Kim A, Kessler EG, Abebe Y, James ER, Chakravarty S, Orr-Gonzalez S, Lambert LE, Engels T, Thomas ML, Fasinu PS, Serre D, Gwadz RW, Walker L, DeConti DK, Mu J, Bailey JA, Sim BKL, Hoffman SL, Fay MP, Dinglasan RR, Juliano JJ, Wellems TE. Plasmodium vivax chloroquine resistance links to pvcrt transcription in a genetic cross. Nat Commun. 2019 Sep 20;10(1):4300. 

Lane KD, Mu J, Lu J, Windle ST, Liu A, Sun PD, Wellems TE. Selection of Plasmodium falciparum cytochrome B mutants by putative PfNDH2 inhibitors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Jun 12;115(24):6285-6290. 

Sá JM, Kaslow SR, Krause MA, Melendez-Muniz VA, Salzman RE, Kite WA, Zhang M, Moraes Barros RR, Mu J, Han PK, Mershon JP, Figan CE, Caleon RL, Rahman RS, Gibson TJ, Amaratunga C, Nishiguchi EP, Breglio KF, Engels TM, Velmurugan S, Ricklefs S, Straimer J, Gnädig NF, Deng B, Liu A, Diouf A, Miura K, Tullo GS, Eastman RT, Chakravarty S, James ER, Udenze K, Li S, Sturdevant DE, Gwadz RW, Porcella SF, Long CA, Fidock DA, Thomas ML, Fay MP, Sim BKL, Hoffman SL, Adams JH, Fairhurst RM, Su XZ, Wellems TE. Artemisinin resistance phenotypes and K13 inheritance in a Plasmodium falciparum cross and Aotus model. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Dec 4;115(49):12513-12518. 

Visit PubMed for a complete publication listing.


Sim KL, Chitnis C, Miller LH, Peterson DS, Su XZ, Wellems TE, inventors; The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services, assignee. Binding domains from Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium falciparumerythrocyte binding proteins. United States patent US 6,962,987. 8 Nov 2005.

Wellems TE, Howard RJ, inventors; The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health, assignee. Recombinant DNA clone containing a genomic fragment of PfHRP-II gene from Plasmodium falciparum. United States patent US 5,296,382. 22 Mar 1994.

Visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a complete patent listing.

Content last reviewed on