Malaria researchers selected for prizes at international meeting
The structure of the PfRH5-basigin complex. From work of Kate Wright, Matt Higgins and colleagues (Click to enlarge)
Biochemistry researchers featured prominently at the recent EMBO Conference on the Biology and Pathology of the Malaria Parasite in Heidelberg. The conference is the main European malaria research meeting and attracts over 250 participants.
Erin Cutts, third year DPhil student in John Vakonakis' lab, won a prize for student oral presentation, which meant her registration fee at the meeting was waived. She presented unpublished work on the structural basis of cytoadherent cell membrane protrusions contributing to severe malaria pathology.
Clinton Lau, a third year DPhil student in Matt Higgins' lab, won one of four poster presentation prizes from a total of around 130 posters. He presented his work showing structural conservation in a family of variant proteins in Plasmodium falciparum, which are believed to be responsible for severe childhood malaria. The work appeared in Cell Host and Microbe in November 2014.
Kate Wright, who completed her DPhil with Matt Higgins last year and has continued as a postdoc in his lab, was also selected to give a talk. She spoke about her work on the structure of malaria invasion protein RH5 with erythrocyte basigin and blocking antibodies.
Erin Cutts and Clinton Lau with their certificates from the malaria conference
Kate has just been awarded a prestigious Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship (following fellowships to two other departmental graduates last year). She will be working jointly between the labs of Jake Baum at Imperial College and Matt Higgins in Oxford, and will start her fellowship in October. The position will allow her to use a combination of approaches to explore how RH5 and basigin, its binding partner on the erythrocyte surface, direct the events of red blood cell invasion by the malaria parasite.