Prof Chris Newbold
Professor of Tropical Medicine and Honorary Faculty at the Wellcome Sanger Institute
Chris Newbold is a molecular parasitologist interested in the basis for adherence related pathogenesis, antigenic variation and immunity in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.
The Newbold group focuses on the how P. falciparum is able to maintain long term chronic infection and how is causes severe disease. In particular they have focussed on the var multi-gene family, specific to P. falciparum among the human malarias, whose protein products that are expressed on the infected red cell surface are thought to be one of the primary mediators of pathogenesis through their ability to cause adhesion of infected cells to host vascular endothelium and to be important targets of the host antibody response. They also undergo transcriptional switching among members as a means of antigenic variation and immune evasion. Using a variety of techniques including functional genomics, transfection, mathematical modelling and whole genome sequencing the Newbold lab study host receptors, pathogenesis, the control oftranscriptional switching and sequence evolution. More recently they have become more interested in the more numerous Plasmodium Interspersed Repeat (pir) multi-gene family that are common to all sequenced species of Plasmodium.
Chris graduated with an MA and PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1978. After a postdoctoral fellowship studying rodent malaria at The National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, he moved to Oxford in 1984. Chris continued to work on rodent malaria with a particular interest in antigenic variation and soon moved to working on the same area in human malaria. He helped to establish the Wellcome Trust unit in Kilifi, Kenya and has worked closely with colleagues there ever since. He became a Professor in 1997 and leads the Molecular Parasitology Group at the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine where he continues to work on mechanisms of disease and immune evasion in malaria. Chris was a key figure in the generation of the Plasmodium falciparum reference genome.