The Parasitology Group in MIMG encompasses an interdisciplinary group of researchers studying the biology and pathogenic mechanisms of parasitic protozoa and helminths. These organisms cause a wide array of important human and animal diseases worldwide. In some cases, parasites are used as model systems to investigate basic biological problems. In others, the emphasis is on host-parasite interactions and the parasite as a disease-causing entity. The group also trains undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in molecular parasitology, cell biology and infectious disease. Members use a broad range of systems biology, molecular biology, structural biology, and genetic approaches to understand parasite biology and host-parasite interaction.
The Parasitology Group includes the research groups of MIMG faculty members Peter Bradley, David Campbell, Elissa Hallem, Kent Hill, and Patricia Johnson, as well as emeritus professors Dan Ray and Larry Simpson. Research interests of the group include: an unusual RNA modification phenomenon known as “RNA editing”; organelle biogenesis, drug resistance and host parasite interactions in trichomonads; gene expression and RNA maturation in trypanosomes; host cell invasion, parasite replication, and host-pathogen interaction in apicomplexans; host-parasite interaction, cilium signaling and motility mechanisms in trypanosomes; and the neurobiology of host seeking and infectivity in parasitic nematodes.
Graduate students in the molecular parasitology group are typically members of the Immunity, Microbes, and Molecular Pathogenesis (IMMP) Home Area, although other home areas participate as well. IMMP students take courses that provide a foundational background of molecular and cellular biology (254A-C) and also take specialized classes in immunology (M261) and molecular pathogenesis (254D). Individual laboratories within the parasitology group are highly interactive and all members participate in monthly parasitology meetings in which students and postdoctoral fellows present their work to the entire group. Members also regularly attend the UCLA MBI and I3T seminar series, as well as the Microbial Pathogenesis Seminar Series, hosted by the Microbial Pathogenesis Training Grant.