Alberto Moreno, MD

Affiliate Scientist, Emory National Primate Research Center

Associate Professor
Emory Vaccine Center

Associate Professor
Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Emory University School of Medicine


Alberto Moreno, MD, focuses his research on malaria vaccine development and malaria pathogenesis. Dr. Moreno is an Associate Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases of the Department of Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine and Affiliate Scientist at the Emory National Primate Research Center. He earned his MD from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. Dr. Moreno was also a Fogarty International Fellow in the Department of Medical and Molecular Parasitology at the New York University Medical Center from 1990-1993. Before joining Emory in 2000, he headed the Immuno-parasitology Division at the Fundación Instituto de Inmunología, National University in Bogotá, Colombia.

Research Interests

Malaria is one of the most widespread infectious diseases prevalent in more than 90 countries worldwide. Although surveillance reports indicate a decline in malaria burden in the past decade associated with vector control, improving testing and case-management policies, and developing an effective vaccine is critical for a sustainable malaria control strategy. Understanding the complexities of both the malaria parasite life cycle and the stage-specific immunity acquired by the host are essential for the rational development of effective vaccines. Our vaccine research aims to optimize cellular responses to induce long-lasting immunity by designing and testing multi-stage Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax chimeric antigens delivered using nanoengineered proteins, novel adenovirus vectors and heterologous prime-boost immunization regimens. Critical for the design of such chimeric constructs is the inclusion of multiple promiscuous CD4+ T cell epitopes. We have designed, expressed and tested in preclinical settings several subunit vaccine candidates that have shown potential for future clinical pathway development.

The second area of interest is understanding the mechanisms of severe malaria in humans using nonhuman primate models. Severe malaria is a major clinical complication of the two most prevalent human malaria parasites, P. falciparum and P. vivax. The molecular mechanisms involved in severe malaria pathogenesis involve both host and parasite factors. Plasmodium spp, an obligate intracellular parasite, has evolved strategies to modify the morphology and physiology of the parasitized cells and to modulate the immune response of the host. The most characterized pathophysiological event in P. falciparum malaria is the sequestration of infected erythrocytes. Interestingly, severe malaria can also be associated with P. vivax infections, a parasite that does not sequester, suggesting various molecular events are involved. We have extensively used simian malaria parasites in macaques as optimal experimental animal models that mimic the clinical outcome observed in humans. The use of animal models in conjunction with multi-omics tools and computational and mathematical analyses have provided vital information to understand in depth the complexity of the parasite-host interaction and to develop novel intervention measures.