Maja Malmberg

Maja Malmberg


Infectious diseases constitute one of the most important present and future challenges for human and animal health. A wide range of new and/or so far "unknown" infectious diseases has emerged during the recent years and even more are predicted to threaten the animal and human population. Many of these may be appearing from hitherto unknown agents. Considering this global problem of animal and human health, there is an urgent need to develop powerful novel methods, which are able to trace down new infectious agents and study the possible complex nature of several infectious agents acting together to cause a disease. The novel science of viral metagenomics opens a completely new path and good possibilities to solve the above listed problems and can for example provide insights into the composition of viral populations.

I'm fascinated by infectious diseases, in particular the agents causing the diseases and their interactions with the surrounding microorganisms. The overall aim of my research is to address questions in infection biology using high-throughput sequencing technologies.


I did my undergraduate studies in engineer in biotechnology with focus on medical biotechnology (MSc), at Umeå University in Sweden.

During my PhD at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, I studied the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, causative agent of malaria. More specifically my work was about developing improved methods to stud drug resistance development and identifying molecular markers associated with tolerance/resistance towards artemether-lumefantrine, the currently most used drug for treatment of malaria. The title of my thesis was: The role of molecular markers in emerging artemether-lumefantrine resistant Plasmodium falciparum.

I defended my thesis in January 2013. Thereafter I went as a guest researcher to Nagasaki University, Japan, to work on a project in drug resistance in Leishmania, a protozoan parasite that causes the disease Leishmaniasis. 

Between August 2013 and August 2015, I did my postdoc at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), in the FORMAS project "Viral Metagenomics and Bioinformatics as powerful novel tools in veterinary infection biology" (221-2012-586). Since August 2015 I'm a researcher in the section of virology at SLU.

My research is financed by the FORMAS project, neurotropic viruses in pigs: the role in congenital disease (2016-00979) and the VR project, an interdisciplinary approach addressing tick-borne diseases in Ugandan indigenous cattle (2016-05705).

I work in close collaboration with the bioinformatician Dr. Juliette Hayer at the Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics (HGEN). Currently I'm involved in several projects in the areas of infection biology, next-generation sequencing and method development.

For example:

  • Development of methods for improved sample preparation for vial metagenomics studies.
    • Evaluation of pre-processing protocols
    • Development and evaluation of amplification methods
  • Development of methods to get complete viral genomes from clinical samples.
  • Applying vial metagenomics in the field of veterinary medicine.
    • Identification and characterization of the causative agent of congenital tremor in newborn piglets
    • Improvement of cattle health in Uganda through increased understanding of microbial communities in cattle and ticks.
    • Determine the differences in the genetic composition of feline coronaviruses in cats diagnosed with feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) compared to healthy coronavirus infected cats
    • Genetic characterization of a novel adenovirus found in bottlenose dolphins suffering from self-limiting gastroenteritis
    • Elucidating the role of known and possibly previously unknown viruses and bacteria within the Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (also called kennel cough)
    • Characterizing the microbiome of Magellanic penguins.
  • Describe Ugandan cattle owners' perception of ticks and TBDs, disease management and general farm challenges using participatory epidemiology in collaboration with Erika Chenais (SVA) and Dr. Klara Fischer (SLU).

I'm part of the SLU Global Bioinformatics Center at the Department of Animal Breeding and genetics (HGEN) and I'm a member of the OIE Collaborating Center for the Biotechnology-based Diagnosis of Infectious Diseases in Veterinary Medicine (OIE CC Uppsala).


Currently I supervise three PhD students and on a regular basis I supervise Bachelor and Master student.

Forskare vid Institutionen för biomedicin och veterinär folkhälsovetenskap (BVF); Enheten för virologi
Telefon: 018-672777, 0730575852
Arbetsbeskrivning: Viral metagenomics, next-generation sequencing, molecular biology, coronaviruses, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), congenital tremor in pigs.
BVF, Virologi, Box 7028
Besöksadress: Ulls väg 26, Uppsala