Parasite Biophysics Laboratory

Defining and controlling mechanisms of parasitism

With a creative, collaborative, biophysical mindset, we aim to understand the ability of parasites to interface with their host-cell to a point at which we can exploit the mechanisms not only for finding cures against the disease the parasites cause but also to make parasite mechanisms a tool that we can use to engineer the host’s cells. By developing approaches that allow a quantitative understanding and manipulation of molecular transport our research transforms parasites from agents of disease to tools for health.

Specifically, we are studying how the malaria parasite takes control over red blood cells. By learning the biophysical principles of transport in between the host and the parasite we can design ways to kill the parasite or exploit it to reengineer red blood cells. The transport we study is broadly encompassing everything from ions to lipids and proteins. We use variations of quantitative microscopy and electrophysiology to gain insight into the unique strategies the parasite evolved to survive.