Activities per year
Area of academic expertise - outline
I am a biomedically trained research scientist with a key interest in immunology and parasitic infections. My main interests are in host-pathogen interactions, and in the development of novel drugs and vaccines to combat tropical diseases, which can have widespread and long-term effects on health and poverty.
Current research is on identifying 17β hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase enzymes in Leishmania mexicana and elucidating their role in the ergosterol biosynthesis pathway. Previous data has indicated that 17βHSDs may play a role in the conversion of ergosterol into ergosta-7,22-dien-3β-ol, making it a suitable target for novel drugs. We aim to demonstrate that inhibiting this stage of sterol biosynthesis in Leishmania mexicana can then affect either the ability to develop from promastigote stage into amastigote stage, or the ability of amastigotes to infect macrophage and thus cause disease in a host.
My previous research has centred on protozoal parasites as pathogens, and helminthes as sources of novel anti-autoimmune drugs. I worked briefly at the St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, where I researched the immunomodulatory activity of helminth-derived peptides, using Type 1 Diabetes as a model of T cell-mediated auto-immune disease.
I also worked at the Burnet Institute, Melbourne, investigating immune responses to Plasmodium falciparum surface proteins with a view to exploit these as targets for a subunit vaccine against malaria infections. This progressed into researching subunit vaccine formulations, particularly in the use of various adjuvants to induce immune responses that mimic the naturally-occuring response to whole parasites.
Current research activities
17β hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases in Leishmania mexicana – Carnegie Collaborative Grant-funded research into the biological role and druggability of 17βHSDs in Leishmania parasites.
Drug combination therapies – Investigating the efficacy of drug combination therapies involving alkylphosphocholine variants and ketoconazole against wild type and drug-resistant Leishmania mexicana cell lines.
Desired research direction
Ph.D. studies in Leishmania or similar tropical parasites, with a view to elucidate biological pathways or molecules which may be exploited as drug targets in future.
Collaboration with industry partners on drug target identification and/or novel therapeutic compounds.
Research Asssistant, St Vincent's Institute of Medical ResearchFeb 2016 → Nov 2016
Research Assistant, Burnet InstituteSep 2014 → Nov 2015
- Q Science (General)
- Leishmania mexicana
- Sterol Biosynthesis
- 17β hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases
- QR180 Immunology