Dr Matthew Rogers
My interest in parasites and vecotrs stretches back as far as 1990 when I attended a parasitology module during my Higher National Diploma at Plymouth University.
In 1994 I graduated from Imperial College, London with a degree in Biological Sciences and a determination to study parasite-vector interactions. After a brief research assistantship on filarial chemotherapy at the International Institute of Parasitology, St Albans I studied for an MSc in Applied Parasitology and Medical Entomology at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. It was here that was introduced to Leishmania and sand flies when I undertook a summer project with Paul Bates – and I haven’t looked back since (thanks Paul!). I remained in Paul’s lab for a PhD in Leishmania-sand fly interactions and two post-doctoral appointments to continue my work on the transmission of leishmaniasis, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the World Health Organisation.
In 2006, I secured an Advanced Training Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust and returned to London to begin to study the immunology of Leishmania infection by sand fly bite, in Ingrid Müller’s lab at Imperial College. During this time I collaborated with the European Union-funded KALANET programme, a community-wide clinical trial of insecticide-impregnated bednets against visceral leishmaniasis in India and Nepal.
In 2010, I was awarded a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council David Phillips Fellowship to advance my studies in Leishmania immunology and transmission and moved to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where I am now Associate Professor of Vector Biology in the Department of Disease Control. During my fellowship I have established my own laboratory and research programme at LSHTM (see below).
I deliver lectures on the core Parasitology & Entomology (M3122) and Immunology of Infectious Disease (M3333) modules in term 1. I co-organise Vector Biology and Vector-Parasite Interactions (M3166) in term 2, delivering lectures, seminars, practicals and supervising field trips. I also contribute to several other modules, including: Vector Sampling, Identification and Incrimination (M3141) and Immunology of Parasitic Infection (M3177); and, the Slapton Ley field trip (M3133).
I'm a tutor for the Medical Parasitology and Medical Entomology for Disease Control MSc courses and serve on the course committees of both.
I’m also the Exam Board Chair for Medical Parasitology and Medical Entomology for Disease Control MSc courses (since September 2011).
All Leishmania infections start in the skin following transmission by phlebotomine sand flies, however, we know very little about the dynamics of natural infection, nor the immune response following infected sand fly bite. Fly delivery of Leishmania parasites is profoundly more effective at generating infection compared to needle injection and my group aims to find out why. We are building on my discovery of a new component of the infectious inoculum, a glycan-rich parasite-secreted gel (PSG), which is regurgitated along with infective parasites during transmission.
The work in my lab focuses on understanding the vector-parasite –host interactions during the Leishmania life cycle. Specifically, we research the cellular and molecular mechanisms of Leishmania infection of their sand fly vectors, the behavioural manipulation of sand flies, the immunological consequences of Leishmania transmission by sand fly bite and the role of PSG. We maintain experimental sand fly colonies of Lutzomyia longipalpis in order to work on sand fly biology and natural models of visceral leishmaniasis (VL, Leishmania infantum) and Leishmania mexicana infection as an experimental model of cutaneous leishmaniasis.
There are several ongoing projects in my lab all unified by the study of Leishmania transmission. Currently we are involved in:
(1) Dissecting the immune mechanisms which allow PSG to exacerbate leishmaniasis following an infected sand fly bite;
(2) Investigating the role of the PSG in establishing Leishmania infections in their sand fly vectors and the composition of the infectious dose;
(3) Leishmania metacyclogenesis in sand flies;
(4) Characterising the sand fly gut microbiota in colony and wild caught sand fly populations and their influence on the Leishmania-sand fly interaction;
(5) Validating sand fly salivary antigens as markers of exposure and transmission in the field.
I lead a multidisciplinary research programme encompassing parasitology, entomology, immunology, and epidemiology and collaborate with field researchers in:
• India and Nepal (in collaboration with the Binaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India; the Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna, India; B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan, Nepal and the Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium) studying the relationship between the immune response to sand fly salivary proteins, sand fly exposure and risk of VL.
• Tajikistan (in collaboration the Tajik Republican Tropical Diseases Centre and Natural History Museum, London) studying vector ecology and transmission biology of VL.