Dr Heledd Mai Davies
The evolution of drug resistance by the malaria parasite, P. falciparum.
I’ve joined the Marcus Lee lab for my second postdoc to research the immune and drug evasion strategies of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.
I’m currently investigating the evolution of resistance by the parasite to a number of potential anti-malarial compounds, using continuous drug selection and genome sequencing. Likely resistance-related mutations discovered by us and others are confirmed using genome editing with CRISPR-Cas9 and conditional gene deletion strategies. We aim to validate new drug targets and facilitate the design of new compounds.
I’m also interested in how the parasite has evolved to evade the host defences. In my career previously I’ve focused on parasite proteins exported onto the surface of the host cell which are important for immune evasion. While continuing this work, I’m also investigating how other exported proteins may allow the parasite to survive in the blood of individuals with sickle cell trait, which were previously thought to be immune to malaria.
I hope to continue researching the survival strategies of different Plasmodium parasites in the future.