McConville laboratory: Molecular microbiology

Research Overview

Our research focuses on the eukaryotic microbial pathogens that cause a number of important and neglected human diseases. These include Plasmodium falciparum (the cause of malaria), Toxoplasma gondii (human toxoplasmosis) and Leishmania spp (human leishmaniasis).

There are no vaccines against any of these disease and current drug treatments are limited and constantly being undermined by the development of drug-resistance. The identification and validation of new drug targets requires a deeper understanding of the biology and metabolism of these pathogens in vivo.

To identify parasite metabolic pathways and host responses that are essential for parasite survival in their human and animal hosts we use a range of approaches. They include comprehensive metabolite profiling (or metabolomics) that employ a range of advanced analytical techniques, as well as genetic, biochemical and cell biology approaches.

photomicrograph of malaria parasite in red blood cellMass spectroscopic analysis identifying parasite metabolitesphotomicrograph of human macrophage

Figure 1: (Left) The malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum proliferates in human red blood cells. We are keen to identify how new antimalarial lead compounds work. (Centre) Advanced mass spectrometric analysis can identify hundreds to thousands of metabolites, providing a new and extremely powerful tool for studying parasite metabolism and drug responses. (Right) Leishmania parasites (outlined in green) reside within the lysosome compartment of human macrophages (outlined in white). Understanding how they do this will open up new avenues for drug development.

Staff

Research staff

Dr Julie Ralton, Post-doctoral fellow
Dr Darren Creek, NHMRC CJ Martin fellow
Dr Fleur Sernee, Post-doctoral fellow
Dr Jim MacRae, Post-doctoral fellow
Dr Eleanor Saunders, Post-doctoral fellow
Dr Yoshiki Yoamaryo, Coppel, Post-doctoral fellow
Dr Martin Blume, Post-doctoral Fellow
Dr Michael Dagley, Post-doctoral Fellow
Jenny Muth, Research assistant

Graduate students

Dave de Souza
Joachim Kloehn
William Ng

Research Publications

Click here for the results of a PubMed search of Malcolm's publications.

Click here for the results of a Google Scholar analysis of Malcolm's publications.