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)


Department of Pathogen Molecular Biology


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’.




Research Area
Drug discovery and development
Drug resistance
Cell biology
Molecular biology
Disease and Health Conditions
Infectious disease
African trypanosomiasis
Chagas Disease
Tropical diseases
Venezuela, RB
Latin America & Caribbean (all income levels)
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)

Selected Publications

Host and parasite genetics shape a link between Trypanosoma cruzi infection dynamics and chronic cardiomyopathy.
Lewis, M.D. ; Francisco, A.F. ; Taylor, M.C. ; Jayawardhana, S. ; Kelly, J.M. ;
Cell Microbiol
The limited ability of posaconazole to cure both acute and chronic Trypanosoma cruzi infections revealed by highly sensitive in vivo imaging.
Fortes Francisco, A. ; Lewis, M.D. ; Jayawardhana, S. ; Taylor, M.C. ; Chatelain, E. ; Kelly, J.M. ;
Antimicrob Agents Chemother
Bioluminescence imaging of chronic Trypanosoma cruzi infections reveals tissue-specific parasite dynamics and heart disease in the absence of locally persistent infection.
Lewis, M.D.; Fortes Francisco, A.; Taylor, M.C.; Burrell-Saward, H.; McLatchie, A.P.; Miles, M.A.; Kelly, J.M.;
Cell Microbiol
Benznidazole-Resistance in Trypanosoma cruzi Is a Readily Acquired Trait That Can Arise Independently in a Single Population.
Mejia, A.M.; Hall, B.S.; Taylor, M.C.; Gómez-Palacio, A.; Wilkinson, S.R.; Triana-Chávez, O.; Kelly, J.M.;
J Infect Dis
Centromere-associated topoisomerase activity in bloodstream form Trypanosoma brucei.
Obado, S.O.; Bot, C.; Echeverry, M.C.; Bayona, J.C.; Alvarez, V.E.; Taylor, M.C.; Kelly, J.M.;
Nucleic Acids Res
A mechanism for cross-resistance to nifurtimox and benznidazole in trypanosomes.
Wilkinson, S.R.; Taylor, M.C.; Horn, D.; Kelly, J.M.; Cheeseman, I.;
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Repetitive DNA is associated with centromeric domains in Trypanosoma brucei but not Trypanosoma cruzi.
Obado, S.O.; Bot, C.; Nilsson, D.; Andersson, B.; Kelly, J.M.;
Genome Biol
See all Professor John Kelly's Publications