(credit: EviMalar, Jamie Hall, Edward Ross, Wellcome Trust)

Overview

Our research focuses on malaria parasites, which are an excellent model system for parasites and pathogens thanks to extensive research in the lab and on natural infections. They also have immense applied relevance because malaria parasites and their relatives cause some of the most serious infectious diseases of humans, livestock, and wildlife. 

There is a great deal of research into the genetics, cellular and molecular biology, and immunology of these parasites, but conspicuously little from whole-organism, ecological, and evolutionary perspectives. Consequently, malaria and related parasites persist despite widespread and continuous efforts to eradicate them and the diseases they cause. 

We believe that evolutionary biology provides a framework that can, and should, be harnessed to solve problems in applied science. To facilitate this, we investigate the strategies that parasites have evolved to maximize two critical components of fitness: in-host survival and between-host transmission. These strategies underpin the virulence and infectiousness of parasites. 


A long-tailed tit.  (Aegithalos caudatus). (Credit: Sarah Reece)

Whilst our work focuses on malaria parasites, the concepts and traits we study are general, making our findings and their implications applicable beyond malaria parasites. For example, our research is also useful for evolutionary biology because it demonstrates that parasites provide an independent testing ground for the generality and predictive power of theories developed to explain the biology of more traditionally studied organisms (i.e. insects, birds, and mammals).

Our research combines theory and experiments with tools from multiple disciplines (cellular and molecular biology, mathematical modelling, immunology, ‘omics, microfluidics, holography, chronobiology, parasitology, evolutionary theory, ecology).

Please follow the links on the left find out more and if you are interesting in joining the lab, please visit the ‘opportunities’ page.