Newbold Group: Molecular Parasitology
Our group's interests centre on the role of multi-gene families in malaria in pathogenesis, immune evasion and their evolution.
My lab focuses on the how malaria parasites are able to maintain long term chronic infection and how they cause severe disease. We have worked mainly on the var multi-gene family, specific to P.falciparum among the human malarias, whose protein products that are expressed on the infected red cell surface are thought to be one of the primary mediators of pathogenesis through their ability to cause adhesion of infected cells to host vascular endothelium and to be important targets of the host antibody response. They also undergo transcriptional switching among members as a means of antigenic variation and immune evasion. Using a variety of techniques including functional genomics, transfection, mathematical modelling and whole genome sequencing we study host receptors, pathogenesis, the control of transcriptional switching and sequence evolution. More recently we have become more interested in the more numerous Plasmodium Interspersed Repeat (pir) multi-gene family that are common to all sequenced species of Plasmodium. In my role as Honorary Faculty at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute I am also intimately involved in the provision of reference genomes, comparative and functional genomics in Plasmodium and genome evolution.