Piedrafita, David

Email: david.piedrafita@federation.edu.au Associate Professor David Piedrafita

Room: 2W203

Phone: 5122 6205


David embarked on a PhD in immunoparasitology within the Department of Primary Industries in Victoria, after winning a competitive National Industry Scholarship. In 1996, he was awarded a Welcome Trust Fellowship and worked on DNA vaccines at Glasgow University in Scotland for three years with Professor FY Liew. David returned to Australia in 1999 to study Helminth vaccines and biology and in 2001 set up his own group working on Fasciola (liver fluke) at Melbourne University. From 2006-2014, he relocated his group to the Biotechnology Research Laboratories at Monash University and in 2014 joined Federation University Australia, where he continues to work on national and international research programs (including Thailand, Indonesia, Africa and Spain) and heads the immunoparasitology unit. He routinely hosts scientists and graduate students from overseas countries and supervises several PhD students. He has been vice president and president of the Australian Society for Parasitology (2005-2007). In 2006, after successfully securing a bid to host the International Congress for Parasitology, he was appointed Co-chair of the congress along with Professor Alan Cowman (WEHI). The congress which was held in Melbourne (ICOPAXII) in 2010 hosted over 1,700 delegates from around the world. David continues to be actively involved in promoting parasitology to the general public through various educational activities and programs including as a Club Melbourne Ambassador.


  • PhD: La Trobe University 1996
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours) Australian National University (ANU) 1992

Postgraduate research supervisions

Current PhD supervision

Program of study: (Doctorate by research)

  • Thesis title: The role of parasite proteases of Haemonchus contortus in infection and disease
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita, D (Main), Beddoe T (External), Sandeman M (Associate)

Program of study: (Doctorate by research)

  • Thesis title: Structural Studies on Human Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase"
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita, D (Main), Law R (External), Sandeman M (Associate), Mosse J (Associate)

Program of study: (Doctorate by research)

  • Thesis title: The role of parasite proteases in infection and disease
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita (Joint Co), Greenhill A (Associate), Sandeman M (Associate)

Program of study: (Doctorate by research)

  • Thesis title: Gene analysis of mediators upregulated in parasite resistant sheep
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita (Main), Sandeman M (Associate)

Program of study: (Doctorate by research)

  • Thesis title: Immunity and vaccine development against parasitic disease
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita (Main), De Veer M (Associate)

Program of study: (Doctorate by research)

  • Thesis title: Functional roles of the Th2 cytokines, IL-4 and IL-13, in a sheep model of asthma
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita D (Joint Co), Bischof R (External)

Program of study: (Doctorate by research)

  • Thesis title: Biosynthesis of nanoparticles using Solanum lycopersicum: optimisation, characterisation and their potential in formulation of plant-made pharmaceuticals
  • Supervisors: Webster, D (Main), Piedrafita D (Associate), White, P (Associate), Walmsley, A (Associate).

Completed PhD supervision

Student: Preston, S

  • Thesis Title: Identification and modulation of cells and mediators upregulated in parasite resistant sheep (2014)
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita D (Main), Els Meeusen (External), Walkden-Brown S (External)

Student: McWilliam, H

  • Thesis Title: Identification and characterisation of novel vaccine candidates for schistosomes using local antibody secreting cell probes (2013)
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita (Joint Co), Els Meeusen (External), BOAG P (External), McManus D (External), Loukas A (External)

Student: Singh, I

  • Thesis Title: Mucosal delivery of sub-cellularly localized plant made recombinant antigens ESAT-6 and Ag85B of Mycobacterium tuberculosis." 2013
  • Supervisors: Balasubramanian, S (Main), Piedrafita D (Associate), Webster, D (Associate), Walmsley, A (Associate).

Student: Lees, M

  • Thesis Title: Sheep responses to Infection by Haemonchus contortus (2011)
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita D (Joint Co), Ingham A (External), Kotze A (External)

Student: Ramamoorthi, J

  • Thesis Title: Molecular and immunological approaches to improving liver fluke diagnosis. (2008)
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita D (Joint Co), Smooker P (External), Nutall S (External)

Student: Robinson, N

  • Thesis Title: Role of mast cells in allergic responses and parasite rejection. (2008)
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita D (Joint Co), Els Meeusen (External), Snibson K (External)

Student: Pleasance, J

  • Thesis Title: A study of the immune responses of Indonesian thin tailed sheep infected with Fasciola gigantica and F. hepatica. (2006)
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita D (Main), Els Meeusen (External),Kimpton W (External)

Student: Weidosari, E

  • Thesis Title: Molecular biology and Immunology of differential susceptibility of ITT & Merino sheep to Fasciola gigantica infection. (2005)
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita D (Main), Tampubolon M.P (External), Wibawan W (External), Priosoeryanto R (External)

Student: Smith, R

  • Thesis Title: Cloning and characterisation of pathogenesis factors of Fasciola hepatica using cDNA representational difference analysis and signal sequence trap approach. (2006)
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita D (Joint Co), Spithill T (External), Pike R (External)

Student: Beckham, S

  • Thesis Title: Characterisation of cathepsin proteases from Fasciola hepatica. (2005)
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita D (Joint Co), Spithill T (External), Pike R (External)

Student: Weidosari, E

  • Thesis Title: Molecular biology and Immunology of differential susceptibility of ITT & Merino sheep to Fasciola gigantica infection. (2005)
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita D (Main),

Student: Kennedy, N

  • Thesis Title: DNA vaccines for Fasciola hepatica. (2005)
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita D (Main), Spithill T(External), Wood P (External), Tennent J (External), Pike R (External)

Student: Prowse, R

  • Thesis Title: Immunology of Fasciola hepatica infection. (2003)
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita D (Joint Co), Spithill T(External), Devenish R (External), Tennent J (External)

Completed masters supervision

Student: Melgaard, T

  • Thesis Title: Understanding immune resistance to the parasite Haemonchus contortus in sheep, using an in vitro larval migration assay. (2012)
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita D (Main), Odum N (External)

Student: Khanahmad Liravi, B

  • Thesis Title: Role of IL-4 and IL-13 in a sheep model of asthma. (2012)
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita D (Main), Bischof R (External)

Student: Ramamoorthi, R

  • Thesis Title: Immune mechanisms against Haemonchus contortus parasites. (2008)
  • Supervisors: Piedrafita D (Main), Kemp J (External), Els Meeusen (External)


Journal articles

Lorsuwannarat N, Piedrafita D, Chantree P, Sansri V, Songkoomkrong S, Bantuchai S, Sangpairot K, Kueakhai P, Changklungmoa N, Chaichanasak P, Chansela P, Sobhon P. (2014). The in vitro anthelmintic effects of plumbagin on newly encysted and 4-weeks-old juvenile parasites of Fasciola gigantica. Exp Parasitol. 22;136C:5-13.

Piedrafita D, Preston S, Kemp J, de Veer M, Sherrard J, Kraska T, Elhay M, Meeusen E. (2013). The Effect of Different Adjuvants on Immune Parameters and Protection following Vaccination of Sheep with a Larval-Specific Antigen of the Gastrointestinal Nematode, Haemonchus contortus. PLoS One. 21;8(10):e78357.

McWilliam HE, Piedrafita D, Li Y, Zheng M, He Y, Yu X, McManus DP, Meeusen EN. (2013). Local immune responses of the Chinese water buffalo, Bubalus bubalis, against Schistosoma japonicum larvae: crucial insights for vaccine design. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 26;7(9):e2460.

Hamish McWilliam, H.E.G., Driguez, P., Piedrafita, D., Maupin, K.A., Haab, B.B., McManus, D.P., Meeusen, E.N.T. (2013). The developing schistosome worms elicit distinct immune responses in different tissue regions. Immunology and Cell Biology. 91(7):477-85.

Piedrafita D, de Veer MJ, Sherrard J, Kraska T, Elhay M, Meeusen EN. (2012). Field vaccination of sheep with a larval-specific antigen of the gastrointestinal nematode, Haemonchus contortus, confers significant protection against an experimental challenge infection. Vaccine. 30(50):7199-204.

Assunta P, Piedrafita D, De Guzman G, Shepherd R, Hamill J, Meeusen E, Walmsley AM. (2012). The effect of plant tissue and vaccine formulation on the oral immunogenicity of a model plant-made antigen in sheep. PLoS One 7(12): e52907.

Jayaraj R, Piedrafita D, Spithill T, Smooker P. (2012). Evaluation of the immune responses induced by four targeted DNA vaccines encoding the juvenile liver fluke antigen, cathepsin B in a mouse model. Genet Vaccines Ther. 10(1):7.

Lees MS, H Nagaraj S, Piedrafita DM, Kotze AC. (2012), Ingham AB. Molecular cloning and characterisation of ovine dual oxidase 2. Gene. 500(1):40-6.

Piedrafita D, Matthews J. B.. (2012). A grand scale challenge: vaccine discovery for helminth control in definitive hosts. Parasite Immunol.;34(5):241-2.

Young AR, Barcham GJ, McWilliam HE, Piedrafita DM, Meeusen EN. (2012). Galectin secretion and binding to adult Fasciola hepatica during chronic liver fluke infection of sheep. Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 145(1-2):362-7.

Hamish E.G. McWilliam, Patrick Driguez, David Piedrafita, Donald P. McManus, and Els N.T. Meeusen. (2011). Novel immunomic technologies for schistosome vaccine development. Parasite Immunology 34(5):276-84.

J. Pleasance, E. Wiedosari, H.W. Raadsma, E. Meeusen, Piedrafita, D. (2011). Resistance to liver fluke infection in the natural host is correlated with a type-1 cytokine response. Parasite Immunology 33(9):495-505.

M.S. Lees, N.A. Robinson, A.B. Ingham, A.C. Kotze, D.M. Piedrafita. (2011). Dual oxidase 2 and glutathione peroxidase gene expression are elevated in hyperimmunised sheep challenged with Haemonchus contortus. Veterinary Parasitology 179(1-3):113-22.

J. Pleasance, H.W. Raadsma, S.E. Estuningsih, E. Meeusen, Piedrafita, D. (2011). Innate and adaptive resistance of Indonesian Thin Tail sheep to liver fluke: A comparative analysis of Fasciola gigantica and F. hepatica infection. Veterinary Parasitology 178(3-4):264-72.

Jorge F. Gonzalez, lvaro Hernandez, Jose M. Molina, Antonio Fernandez, Herman Raadsma, Els N.T. Meeusen and Piedrafita, D. (2011). Fecundity in adult Haemonchus contortus parasites is correlated with abomasal tissue eosinophils and gamma-delta T cells in resistant Canaria Hair Breed sheep. Veterinary Parasitology 178(3-4):286-92.

Robinson N, Pleasance J, Piedrafita D, Meeusen E. N. T. (2011). The kinetics of local cytokine and galectin expression after challenge infection with the gastrointestinal nematode, Haemonchus contortus. International Journal for Parasitology 41(5):487-93.

Piedrafita D, Spithill TW and Raadsma H. W (2010). Improving animal and human health through understanding liver fluke immunology. Parasite Immunology 32(8):572-81.

Hein WR, Pernthaner A, Piedrafita D and Meeusen E. N. T. (2010). Immune mechanisms of resistance to gastrointestinal nematode infections in sheep. Parasite Immunology 32(8):541-48.

Piedrafita D, Gonzalez J, Raadsma H. W & Meeusen E. N. T (2010). Increased production through parasite control: can ancient breeds of sheep teach us new lessons? Trends in Parasitology 26(12):568-73.

Robinson N, Piedrafita D, Snibson K, Harrison P, Meeusen E. N. T. (2010) Immune cell kinetics in the ovine abomasal mucosa following hyper immunisation and challenge with Haemonchus contortus. Veterinary Research 41(4):37.

Estuningsih, E., Spithill T.W., Raadsma, H.W., Law, R., Adiwinata, G., Meeusen, E. and Piedrafita, D. (2009). Development and application of a faecal antigen diagnostic sandwich ELISA for estimating prevalence of Fasciola gigantica in cattle in central Java, Indonesia. Journal of Parasitology 95(2), 450-455.

Jayaraj, R., Piedrafita, D., Dynon, K., Grams, R., Spithill, T.W. and Smooker, P.M. (2009). Vaccination against fasciolosis by a multivalent vaccine of stage-specific antigens. Veterinary Parasitology 160(3-4), 230-236.

Kemp JM, Robinson NA, Meeusen EN and Piedrafita DM. (2009). The relationship between the rapid rejection of Haemonchus contortus larvae with cells and mediators in abomasal tissues in immune sheep. Int J Parasitol. 39(14):1589-94.

Beckham SA, Piedrafita D, Phillips CI, Samarawickrema N, Law RH, Smooker PM, Quinsey NS, Irving JA, Greenwood D, Verhelst SH, Bogyo M, Turk B, Coetzer TH, Wijeyewickrema LC, Spithill TW, Pike RN. (2009) A major cathepsin B protease from the liver fluke Fasciola hepatica has atypical active site features and a potential role in the digestive tract of newly excysted juvenile parasites. Int J Biochem Cell Biol., 41(7):1601-12.

Smith RE, Spithill TW, Pike RN, Meeusen EN, Piedrafita D. (2008). Fasciola hepatica and Fasciola gigantica: cloning and characterisation of 70 kDa heat-shock proteins reveals variation in HSP70 gene expression between parasite species recovered from sheep. Exp. Parasitol. 118, 536-542.

Jorge F. Gonzalez, lvaro Hernanndez, Jose M. Molina, Antonio Fernandez, Herman Raadsma, Els N.T. Meeusen and Piedrafita, D. (2008). Comparative experimental Haemonchus contortus infection of two sheep breeds native to the Canary Islands. Veterinary Parasitology 153, 374-378.

Raadsma H. W, Kingsford N., Suharyanta, Spithill T.W and Piedrafita, D. (2008). Host responses during experimental infection with Fasciola gigantica and Fasciola hepatica in Merino sheep: II Development of a predictive index for Fasciola gigantica worm burdens Veterinary Parasitology 154, 250-261.

Raadsma H. W, Kingsford N.M, Suharyanta, Spithill T.W and Piedrafita D. (2007). Host responses during experimental infection with Fasciola gigantica or Fasciola hepatica in Merino sheep: I. Comparative immunological and plasma biochemical changes during early infection. Veterinary Parasitology 143, 275-286.

Piedrafita, D, Estuningsih, E., Pleasance, J., Prowse, R.K., Raadsma,H.W., Meeusen, E.N.T. and Spithill T.W. (2007). Peritoneal lavage cells of Indonesian thin tail sheep mediate antibody-dependent superoxide radical cytotoxicity in vitro against newly excysted juvenile Fasciola gigantica but not juvenile Fasciola hepatica. Inf. Immunity 75, 1954-1963.

Kennedy NJ, Spithill TW, Tennent J, Wood PR and Piedrafita D. (2006). DNA vaccines in sheep: CTLA-4 mediated targeting and CpG motifs enhance immunogenicity in a DNA prime/protein boost strategy. Vaccine 24, 970-979

Boscariol R., Pleasance J, Piedrafita, D., Raadsma H. and Spithill T. W. (2006). Identification of two allelic forms of ovine CD4 exhibiting a Ser183/Pro183 polymorphism in the coding sequence of domain 3. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 113, 305-312.

Piedrafita, D., Raadsma H., Prowse R. and Spithill T. W. (2004). Immunology of the Host Parasite Relationship in Fasciolosis (Fasciola hepatica and Fasciola gigantica). Canadian J. Zool. 82: 233-250 (invited review).

Estuningsih E., Widjayanti S., Adiwinata G. and Piedrafita D. (2004). Detection of coproantigens by sandwich ELISA in sheep experimentally infected with Fasciola gigantica. Tropical Biomedicine Supplement: 51-56.

Meeusen, E.N.T. and Piedrafita D. (2003). Harvesting natural immunity to helminth parasites for the development of veterinary vaccines. Int. J. Parasitol. 33: 1285-1290 (invited review).

Law, R., Smooker, P.M., Irving, J.A., Piedrafita, D., Ponting, R. et al. (2003). Cloning and expression of the major secreted cathepsin B-like protein from juvenile Fasciola hepatica and analysis of immunogenicity following liver fluke infection. Infection and Immunity 71: 6921-6932.

Piedrafita D., Parsons J.C., Sandeman M., Wood P. S., Estuningsih E., Partoutomo S. and Spithill T.W. (2001). Antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity to newly excysted juvenile Fasciola hepatica in vitro mediated by reactive nitrogen intermediates. Parasite Immunology 23: 473-482.

Modha J., Piedrafita D., Roberts M.C., Kusel J.R. and Kennedy M.W. (2000). Secretion of IL-12 by murine macrophages activated by immunoglobulin receptor-mediated internalisation of the surface coat of Trichinella spiralis larvae. Parasite Immunology 22: 115-120 (Corresponding author).

Piedrafita D., Spithill T.W., Dalton J.P., Brindley P. J., Sandeman M.R., Wood P.R. and Parsons J.C. (2000). Juvenile Fasciola hepatica are resistant to killing in vitro by free radicals compared with larvae of Schistosoma mansoni. Parasite Immunology 22: 287-296.

Piedrafita D., Proudfoot L., Nikolaev A.V., Xu D., Sands W., Feng G.J., Thomas E., Brewer J., Ferguson A.J., Alexander J. and Liew F.Y. (1999). Regulation of macrophage interleukin 12 synthesis by Leishmania phosphoglycans. European Journal of Immunology, 29: 235-244.

Piedrafita D., Xu D., Hunter D., Harrison R.A. and Liew F.Y. (1999). Protective immune responses induced by vaccination with an expression genomic library of Leishmania major. Journal of Immunology, 163: 1467-1472

Niedbala W., Xiao-qing W., Piedrafita D., Xu D. and Liew F.Y. (1999). Effects of nitric oxide on the induction and differentiation of Th1 cells. European Journal of Immunology, 29: 2498-2505.

Xiao-qing W., Leung B., Piedrafita D., Niedbala W., Feng G-J., Sweet M., Dobbie L., Smith A. and Liew F.Y. (1999). Altered immune responses and susceptibility to Leishmania major and Staphylococcus aureus infection in IL-18 deficient mice. Journal of Immunology, 163: 2821-2828.

Xu D., Chan W.L., Leung B.P., Huang F.P., Wheeler R., Piedrafita D., Robinson J.H. and Liew F.Y. (1998). Selective expression of a stable cell surface molecule on Type 2 but not Type 1 helper T cells. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 187: 787-794.

Piedrafita D. and Liew F.Y. Nitric oxide: a protective or pathogenic molecule? (1998). Reviews in Medical Microbiology, 9(4): 179-189.

Spithill T.W., Piedrafita D. and Smooker P.M. (1997). Immunological approaches for the control of Fasciolosis. International Journal for Parasitology, 27: 1221-1235.

Published scholarly works in book chapters

Spithill, T.W., Carmona, C., Piedrafita, D., Smooker, P. 2011. Prospects for immunotherapy against Fasciola hepatica (liver fluke). In: Parasitic Helminths: Targets, Screens, Drugs and Vaccines, eds Conor R Caffrey and Paul M Selzer, Wiley-VCH, Singapore, pp. 467-486.

Raadsma H. W., Fullard K.J., Kingsford N.M.,Margawati E.T., Estuningsih, E., Widjayanti, S., Subandriyo, Clairoux, N., Spithill T.W. and Piedrafita D. 2008. Ovine Disease Resistance- Integrating Comparative And Functional Genomics Approaches. A Genome Information-Poor Species. Genomics of Disease. Editors: J.P. Gustafson, J. Taylor and G. Stacey. Publisher: Springer New York. Chapter 8. pp 89-113.

H.W. Raadsma, K.J. Fullard, N.M Kingsford, E.T. Margawati, S.E. Estuningsih, S. Widjayanti, Subandriyo, T.W. Spithill and D. Piedrafita. 2008. Chapter 7. Genetics of fasciolosis in small ruminants. Book title: Overcoming liver fluke as a constraint to ruminant. Editors: Gray G.D., Copland R.S. and Copeman D.B. production in South-East Asia. ACIAR Monograph No. 133, pp. 155.

D. Piedrafita, E. Estuningsih, T.W. Spithill, J. Pleasance, S. Widjajanti, Suharyanta, S. Partoutomo, N. Kingsford, D. Hansen, D. Clery, R. Prowse, E.N.T. Meeusen and H.W. Raadsma. 2008 Chapter 8. Immunology and assessment of resistance to fasciolosis in small ruminants. Book title: Overcoming liver fluke as a constraint to ruminant. Editors: Gray G.D., Copland R.S. and Copeman D.B. production in South-East Asia. ACIAR Monograph No. 133, pp. 155.

Raadsma, H. W., Piedrafita, D., Kingsford, N.M., Fullard, K.J., Margawati, E.T., Estuningsih, E., Widjayanti, S. , Subandriyo, Clairoux, N. and Spithill, T.W. 2005. A functional and comparative genomics approach to characterise the high resistance of Indonesian Thin Tail (ITT) Sheep to Fasciolosis as a model for ruminants. Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources. Ed: D Hemmings, CAB International, Wallingford, UK.