Infectious Disease

Infectious disease research in FHM includes microbiology and parasitology, ranging from vector-borne diseases to environmental pathogens. This includes experimental work on organisms causing leishmaniasis and trypanosomiasis (major burdens or ill-health and disability in resource poor countries) and the ecology of waterborne pathogens, as well as the application of spatial analysis to predict the environmental distribution of pathogens.

Research areas

Particular research areas within the infectious disease theme include:

  • Tropical infectious diseases – leishmaniasis, African trypanosomiasis, South American trypanosomiasis, dengue fever
  • Insect vectors of tropical diseases – sand flies and mosquitoes
  • Environmental and gastro-intestinal microbiology – Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis and intestinal bacterial fauna
  • Spatial analysis to predict the environmental distribution of pathogens – loaiasis, leptospirosis, malaria, meningitis

Research successes

Notable research successes include:


Researchers working in this area, together with a short description of their research interests, are listed below.

  • Professor Paul Bates: Leishmania life cycle biology and transmission, novel agents of leishmaniasis in Ghana, Thailand and Brazil
  • Professor Peter Diggle: statistical modelling of spatial and temporal variation in disease risk, including loaiasis in Africa, leptospirosis in Brazil; malaria in Malawi and meningitis epidemic forecasting in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Dr Rod Dillon: Leishmania - sand fly interactions, functional genomics of insect vectors, insect microbiology and microbial ecology
  • Dr Derek Gatherer: bioinformatics applied to genomics and evolution of viruses, Leishmania and other microbes
  • Dr Michael Ginger: biochemistry and cell biology of metabolism in Trypanosoma brucei and Leishmania, environmental influences and metabolic diversity in microbial eukaryotes
  • Dr Karen Grant: identification, characterisation and validation of novel drug targets for the medically important protozoan parasites, Leishmania and Trypanosoma brucei, with a particular emphasis on protein kinases
  • Dr Paul McKean: the role of novel microtubule associated proteins in regulating cytoskeletal dynamics and cellular morphogenesis in trypanosomes, protein targeting and assembly of the trypanosome flagellum
  • Dr Jackie Parry: protozoan-bacterial, and viral-cyanobacterial, interactions in freshwater, both in the plankton and also within biofilms
  • Professor Roger Pickup: Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (Map) and inflammatory bowel disease, antibiotic resistance in hospitals and nature
  • Dr Rachael Rigby: mechanisms of intestinal epithelial cell renewal and repair and how bacterial signals may be linked to the dysregulation of repair seen inflammatory bowel disease and cancer
  • Dr Stephen Roberts: regulation of ion transport across the biological membranes of plant and fungal cells, calcium signalling in filamentous fungi
  • Professor Steve Sinkins: interactions between mosquitoes and Wolbachia inherited intracellular bacteria, and the exploitation of these as novel methods of vector control for malaria, lymphatic filariasis and dengue fever
  • Dr Mick Urbaniak: Signalling pathways and early stage drug discovery in the African trypanosome Trypanosoma brucei
  • Dr Karen Wright: microbial interactions at the gut epithelium surface and the cellular and molecular mechanisms of the cannabinoid system


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