Elucidating malaria biology to inform therapeutics

Malaria remains a formidable global health problem with over 200 million cases each year and half a million deaths, and is a major contributor to childhood and maternal morbidity and mortality.

Our laboratory studies the biology of host-parasite interactions during malaria blood-stage infections. We are defining essential parasite and red blood cell determinants required for invasion, intracellular growth, pathogenesis and transmission of these debilitating human pathogens.

To explore biological questions in both the lab and the field, we develop and use a variety of experimental approaches. We rely on reverse and forward genetics, combined with cell biology, chemical biology and computational approaches. The identification of critical molecules and pathways can inform vaccine and drug development.

Current Research Projects:

1. Plasmodium falciparum invasion biology:
focus on ligand-receptor interactions and signal transduction

2. Red blood cell determinants of malaria infection:
genetic analysis and screens to identify essential molecules

3. Epigenetic regulation in malaria parasites:
determinants of virulence and transmission

4. Plasmodium vivax biology:
lab and field studies on invasion and in vitro culture

5. Zoonotic infections of Plasmodium knowlesi and Babesia spp.:
biology of tropism and in vitro genetic systems

6. Research in malaria endemic countries:
with collaborators in India, Senegal and Brazil