Dr Catherine Onley | Daphne Jackson Fellow

This person is a member of Sanger Institute Alumni.

Onley, Catherine

Catherine Onley is a Daphne Jackson Fellow in the Cell Surface Signalling group. Her primary research interest is protein-protein interactions during cellular recognition and activation events. She is investigating the mechanisms of red blood cell invasion by the parasite Babesia microti to identify potential targets for vaccines and therapeutic intervention.

I have returned to academic research following a career break and period in the biotechnology industry. My Daphne Jackson fellowship focuses on identifying and characterising interactions between parasite and host proteins that allow parasites to recognise and invade human red blood cells.

Babesiosis is an emerging human tick-borne parasitic disease and blood transfusion-transmitted infection. Babesia microti, the prevalent cause of babesiosis in humans, is related to Plasmodium spp., the etiological agents of malaria and parasites of the genus Theileria and Babesia, which cause economically significant disease in livestock.

Red blood cell invasion is an essential step in the parasite lifecycle. During invasion, parasites are exposed to host antibodies and can be targeted by vaccines to generate a specific immune response and block parasite invasion. Little is known about mechanisms of invasion by B.microti.

The project makes use of technologies developed in Dr Wright’s laboratory that allow large-scale identification of parasite proteins that bind host cell proteins and has been used to find novel interactions, and promising vaccine candidates, for the related parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which is the most virulent cause of malaria.

During my PhD, I investigated interactions between platelet receptors and collagens in cardiovascular disease. I then worked within the biotechnology industry and commercial sector before returning to academic research.


  • Physical and functional interaction between cell-surface calreticulin and the collagen receptors integrin alpha2beta1 and glycoprotein VI in human platelets.

    Elton CM, Smethurst PA, Eggleton P and Farndale RW

    Thrombosis and haemostasis 2002;88;4;648-54

  • Peptide synthesis in the study of collagen-platelet interactions.

    Knight CG, Onley CM and Farndale RW

    Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 2004;273;349-64

  • The low-frequency allele of the platelet collagen signaling receptor glycoprotein VI is associated with reduced functional responses and expression.

    Joutsi-Korhonen L, Smethurst PA, Rankin A, Gray E, IJsseldijk M et al.

    Blood 2003;101;11;4372-9

  • Integrin-independent tyrosine phosphorylation of p125(fak) in human platelets stimulated by collagen.

    Achison M, Elton CM, Hargreaves PG, Knight CG, Barnes MJ and Farndale RW

    The Journal of biological chemistry 2001;276;5;3167-74

Onley, Catherine
Catherine's Timeline

Daphne Jackson Fellow, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute


Consultant & Business Development Manager (part-time)


Cambridge AWiSE Co-ordinator (part-time)


Company Director (part-time)


Head of Product Development & Manufacture, Abcam plc


Head of Laboratory, Abcam plc


Business Development Manager, Abcam plc

PhD, University of Cambridge