Photo of Sean C. Murphy, MD, PhD
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department of Microbiology
Associate Professor
Laboratory Medicine
Assistant Director, Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, UW Medical Center;
Clinical Investigator, Malaria Clinical Trials Center
Medical Director, Human Challenge Center, Center for Infectious Disease Research

Faculty Information


Dr. Murphy's work focuses on human malaria infection. Human and animals can be protected against malaria sporozoites challenge by immunization with attenuated Plasmodium sporozoites. The protective responses induced by these immunizations remain largely unknown because it is extremely difficult to simultaneously monitor responses against hundreds of potential antigens.

In collaboration with local and international collaborators, Dr. Murphy studies this complex poly-specific T cell repertoire induced by Plasmodium sporozoites using mouse models of malaria infection and novel high-throughput T cell screening technologies.

A major goal of this work is to identify protective antigens in mice, validate the orthologous antigens in human subjects and develop multi-component subunit vaccines that target the pre-erythrocytic stage of malaria infection. Such vaccines could accelerate the development of effective vaccines for the eradication of malaria.

The development of high-throughput tools for T cell antigen discovery would also have broad implications for other infectious and autoimmune diseases and our group is exploring several such possibilities.

Dr. Murphy also directs a clinical pathology group devoted to molecular diagnosis of malaria infections. This work supports malaria human challenge trials and allows for detection of malaria parasites in human blood up to 3-4 days earlier than by conventional blood smears.


Education & Training: 
Iowa State University
Ames IA
Post-Graduate Diploma
University of Cape Town
Cape Town, South Africa
Northwestern University
Chicago IL
Northwestern University
Chicago, IL
Clinical Pathology
University of Washington
Seattle WA
Chief Resident in Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington Medical Center
Strandjord-ClaysonResearch Award, Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington
Paul Strandjord Young Investigator Award with Distinction, Acad. Clinical Physicians/Scientists
Robert F. & Norma Lee Labbé Endowed Faculty Fellowship, University of Washington
Invited panelist, WHO Working Group on Molecular Malaria Diagnostic Test EQA (London)
(206) 685-6162
Mailing Address: 
Box 357110, 750 Republican Street, E633, Seattle WA 98109


Research & Clinical Interests
Research Interests: 
  • Parasitology
  • Malaria Vaccines
  • Malaria Diagnostics
  • Clinical Trials

Stone BC, Kas A, Billman ZP, Murphy SC. 2016. Complex Minigene Library Vaccination for Discovery of Pre-Erythrocytic Plasmodium T Cell Antigens. PLoS ONE.

Billman, ZP, Kas A, Stone BC, Murphy SC. 2016. Defining rules of CD8+ T cell expansion against pre–erythrocytic Plasmodium antigens in sporozoite–immunized mice. Malaria J. 15(1):238. doi: 10.1186/s12936–016–1295–5.

Billman ZP, Seilie AM, Murphy SC. 2016. Purification of Plasmodium sporozoites enhances parasite–specific T cell responses Infect Immun. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01439–15.