Professor David Baker


of Malaria Parasite Biology

Room 393

Keppel Street
United Kingdom

+44 (0) 20 7927 2664

David completed his PhD in 1988 at the University of Hull on the molecular biology of the intestinal parasite Giardia lamblia. He then moved to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to work on the sexual stages of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum with Professor Geoff Targett. Current research is focused on investigating signal transduction pathways that regulate development of the most serious human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. David is also involved in drug discovery work to exploit knowledge generated on these pathways to develop new antimalarial drugs.


Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases
Department of Infection Biology


Malaria Centre


I am involved in various aspects of teaching the Medical Parasitology and Medical Microbiology Masters courses. I also co-organise the D2 Module 3160 - Molecular Research in Infectious Diseases and I am the Deputy Chair of the Exam Board for the Infectious Diseases Distance Learning Masters module.



David Baker’s research group uses biochemical and genetic approaches to study the cyclic nucleotide signal transduction pathways of malaria parasites. These pathways are centred on the intracellular messenger molecules cAMP and cGMP which perform a whole spectrum of cellular functions in diverse organisms. David's studies have focused on the cyclase enzymes that synthesise cyclic nucleotides, the phosphodiesterases that degrade them, but also on the protein kinases that are activated by cGMP (PKG) and cAMP (PKA). David's group have found that in Plasmodium falciparum cGMP and PKG play an essential role in triggering the activation of mature sexual parasite forms (gametocytes) which are required to transmit disease to the mosquito vector. It is now becoming clear that cGMP signalling and the PKG enzyme are vital for multiple parasite life cycle stages; for example using specific PKG inhibitors in conjunction with inhibitor-insensitive transgenic parasites, David's team in collaboration with Mike Blackman at the Francis Crick Institute, have demonstrated that asexual blood stage egress is blocked if PKG is inhibited or conditionally disrupted. This collaboration has also recently demonstrated an essential role of cAMP and PKA signalling for erythrocyte invasion by P. falciparum merozoites. Through collaboration with Mathieu Brochet at the University of Geneva, David has shown that PKG activity stimulates calcium release required for merozoite egress and that this is likely mediated through regulation of phosphoinositide metablism. More recently we have shown that PKG interacts with a transporter-like protein (ICM1) that is vital for coordination of cGMP and calcium signalling. David is also targeting cyclic nucleotide signalling pathways through development of novel antimalarial drug candidates. This workis being funded primarily through two Wellcome Trust Innovator Awards in partnership with Salvensis and the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV).

David received two Wellcome Trust Investigator Awards in 2015 and 2021. These joint awards, with Professor Mike Blackman at the Francis Crick Institute, focus on the role of cyclic nucleotide signalling in malaria parasites.

David served on the MRC Infections and Immunity Board from 2018-2022.


Research Area
Drug discovery and development
Cell biology
Molecular biology
Disease and Health Conditions
Infectious disease
Tropical diseases

Selected Publications

Ca2+ signals critical for egress and gametogenesis in malaria parasites depend on a multipass membrane protein that interacts with PKG.
Balestra AC; Koussis K; Klages N; Howell SA; Flynn HR; Bantscheff M; Pasquarello C; Perrin AJ; Brusini L; Arboit P
Science advances
Antimalarial activity of primaquine operates via a two-step biochemical relay.
Camarda G; Jirawatcharadech P; Priestley RS; Saif A; March S; Wong MHL; Leung S; Miller AB; Baker DA; Alano P
Nature Communications
Structures of the cGMP-dependent protein kinase in malaria parasites reveal a unique structural relay mechanism for activation.
El Bakkouri M; Kouidmi I; Wernimont AK; Amani M; Hutchinson A; Loppnau P; Kim JJ; Flueck C; Walker JR; Seitova A
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Phosphodiesterase beta is the master regulator of cAMP signalling during malaria parasite invasion.
Flueck C; Drought LG; Jones A; Patel A; Perrin AJ; Walker EM; Nofal SD; Snijders AP; Blackman MJ; Baker DA
PLoS Biology
Rapid and iterative genome editing in the malaria parasite Plasmodium knowlesi provides new tools for P. vivax research.
Mohring F; Hart MN; Rawlinson TA; Henrici R; Charleston JA; Diez Benavente E; Patel A; Hall J; Almond N; Campino S
Cyclic AMP signalling controls key components of malaria parasite host cell invasion machinery.
Patel A; Perrin AJ; Flynn HR; Bisson C; Withers-Martinez C; Treeck M; Flueck C; Nicastro G; Martin SR; Ramos A
PLoS biology
Epistasis studies reveal redundancy among calcium-dependent protein kinases in motility and invasion of malaria parasites.
Fang H; Gomes AR; Klages N; Pino P; Maco B; Walker EM; Zenonos ZA; Angrisano F; Baum J; Doerig C
Nature communications
The Actinomyosin Motor Drives Malaria Parasite Red Blood Cell Invasion but Not Egress.
Perrin AJ; Collins CR; Russell MRG; Collinson LM; Baker DA; Blackman MJ
A potent series targeting the malarial cGMP-dependent protein kinase clears infection and blocks transmission.
Baker DA; Stewart LB; Large JM; Bowyer PW; Ansell KH; Jiménez-Díaz MB; El Bakkouri M; Birchall K; Dechering KJ; Bouloc NS
Nature communications
Plasmodium falciparum CRK4 directs continuous rounds of DNA replication during schizogony.
Ganter M; Goldberg JM; Dvorin JD; Paulo JA; King JG; Tripathi AK; Paul AS; Yang J; Coppens I; Jiang RH
Nature microbiology
Phosphoproteomics reveals malaria parasite Protein Kinase G as a signalling hub regulating egress and invasion.
Alam MM; Solyakov L; Bottrill AR; Flueck C; Siddiqui FA; Singh S; Mistry S; Viskaduraki M; Lee K; Hopp CS
Nature communications
Phosphoinositide metabolism links cGMP-dependent protein kinase G to essential Ca²⁺ signals at key decision points in the life cycle of malaria parasites.
Brochet M; Collins MO; Smith TK; Thompson E; Sebastian S; Volkmann K; Schwach F; Chappell L; Gomes AR; Berriman M
PLoS biology
A transcriptional switch underlies commitment to sexual development in malaria parasites.
Kafsack BFC; Rovira-Graells N; Clark TG; Bancells C; Crowley VM; Campino SG; Williams AE; Drought LG; Kwiatkowski DP; Baker DA
A plant-like kinase in Plasmodium falciparum regulates parasite egress from erythrocytes.
Dvorin JD; Martyn DC; Patel SD; Grimley JS; Collins CR; Hopp CS; Bright AT; Westenberger S; Winzeler E; Blackman MJ
Science (New York, NY)
Gametogenesis in malaria parasites is mediated by the cGMP-dependent protein kinase.
McRobert L; Taylor CJ; Deng W; Fivelman QL; Cummings RM; Polley SD; Billker O; Baker DA
PLoS biology
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