Research summary. The research in my lab focuses on the biology of malaria parasites and its remarkable ability to infect human populations. Every 30 seconds someone dies from malaria, making it a leading cause of death and disease worldwide. Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax cause the majority of human malarial cases and are the primary species that my laboratory studies. Most of the suffering inflicted by these protozoan parasites is from blood-stage development, which is initiated by the invasion of merozoites into susceptible erythrocytes. Merozoite adhesion molecules or ligands, positioned on the merozoite surface and in the organelles of the apical complex, mediate the invasion process. It is these molecules that determine infectivity and virulence. Parasite stages in the mosquito also have similar molecules to the merozoite ligands that control invasion. My research studies the function of these parasite ligands in the blood and mosquito stages and how they can be used for anti-malarial therapies.
In our Global Health Infectious Disease Research (GHIDR) lab, we expect that a better understanding of Plasmodium's biology will enable us develop new ways to control malaria through vaccines and other prevention strategies. Major questions of my lab’s research include: a) how does allelic variation in the ligands help the parasite evade inhibitory immunity; b) what are the molecular interactions of the malarial ligand that are important to its function; and c) what mechanisms control expression of the invasion-related genes. Incorporated into our lab-based studies are research links to laboratories in tropical regions endemic for malaria. Currently, we are studying malaria in endemic regions with collaborators in Papua New Guinea, southern Africa, and South America.
My research efforts are focused in three main projects:
1. Duffy Binding Protein
3. Functional Genomics using piggyBac
For more general information about malaria, see my article "Malaria," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. If you would like copies of reprints/PDFs, laboratory protocols, MTA’s, or other research-related items click on the most closely related topic above.