Professor John Kelly
of Molecular Biology
Research area: The molecular biology of parasitic protozoa
My lab focuses on three main areas:
- The mechanisms of oxidative defence in trypanosomes
- Mechanisms of drug action and resistance
- Understanding the pathogenesis of trypanosome infections
Funding: The British Heart Foundation, Australian Research Council, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi)
As part of the Masters course 'Molecular Biology of Infectious Diseases', I teach on a 5 week study module entitled 'Advanced Training in Molecular Biology' . The module is built round an appropriate central research theme and offers training in laboratory skills, bioinformatics and scientific writing.
The parasitic protozoa Trypanosoma cruzi and Trypanosoma brucei are responsible for two major tropical infections, Chagas disease and African trypanosomiasis, respectively. These diseases represent a major public health problem in regions of the world least able to deal with the associated economic burden. Advances by ourselves and others have led to the development of a wide range of genetic tools that can be used to address fundamental biological questions associated with these important pathogens. In addition, the recent completion of the trypanosomatid genome projects, together with major advances in imaging technology, is providing a research framework where rapid progress can be expected. We are exploiting these new approaches and opportunities to gain greater understanding of the mechanisms of drug action and resistance, and disease pathogenesis. In collaboration with biologists, biochemists and medicinal chemists, we have validated a number of parasite drug targets and identified several lead compounds that show promise in terms of therapeutic development. This multidisciplinary approach, which brings together of both academic and industrial partners, is now widely seen as the way ahead to provide better treatments for these previously ‘Neglected Diseases’.