I began my research career with an interest in archaea, as its cellular machinery is such an interesting mix of bacterial and eukaryotic systems. This swiftly morphed into a love for early-branching human infective eukaryotic parasites such as Trypanosoma brucei, which utilise many divergent mechanisms that are both interesting and useful for future therapeutics. I have worked on a number of different aspects around this parasite, including phospholipid production, DNA replication and repair and drug discovery.
I completed my PhD at the University of St Andrews in Scotland working under Terry Smith and Gordon Florence to elucidate the mechanism of action of novel natural-product inspired inhibitors against T. brucei. This project allowed me build on my skills in biochemistry and parasitology and also utilise synthetic organic chemistry to produce chemical probes for target identification.
I have now moved on to work on another underappreciated protozoan parasite - Toxoplasma gondii - in Malcolm McConville's lab in Bio21. Here, largely in collaboration with Chris Tonkin at WEHI, I am working on further elucidation of the parasite’s metabolic network, with a focus on the chronic cyst-forming life cycle stage. Another interest is the starch synthesised by T. gondii primarily in this cyst-forming stage, as perturbations in starch degradation and regulation can be seriously detrimental to the growth of the acute stage. In the lab I primarily use biochemical assays and mass spectrometry to achieve these goals.