Malaria Investigation Takes Leader to New Territory

Staff Writer | | July 30, 2012

A leading molecular biologist from the University of Melbourne has been awarded the Dorothea Sandars Churchill Fellowship for his work on parasitic diseases.

Dr Stuart Ralph, a senior lecturer and laboratory leader in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, received his award from the Governor of Victoria, Mr Alex Chernov.  Dr Ralph has a particular interest in the cause of severe malaria, Plasmodium falciparum and therapies for combating this disease. Researchers are constantly looking for new ways to conquer malaria and to increase our understanding of the action of parasites and resistance to existing drugs.

“The burden of disease-causing parasites is particularly high in developing countries, and not enough funding is put into developing much needed treatments,” Dr Ralph said. “Complete genome sequences are available for many of the parasites, so a wealth of data is available to enable us to search for potential targets for chemotherapeutic treatments. My interests lie in identifying and characterising promising drug targets from Plasmodium falciparum and other parasites, as well as understanding how parasites become resistant to current treatments.”

As part of his Fellowship Dr Ralph will travel to India, visiting Delhi, Lucknow and Pune to meet parasite biologists, medicinal chemists and computational scientists. Together they will use Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) a data and ideas sharing platform...