Chemical Tools for Unraveling Parasite Biology

Emily Derbyshire - Duke University

Within the liver a single Plasmodium parasite transforms into tens of thousands of blood infective forms to cause malaria. The Derbyshire lab combines chemical biology, biochemistry, and genomics to uncover molecular events that drive this transient developmental stage within the liver. Through an integrative approach, the lab uses small molecule probes, gene sequencing technologies, and a forward genetic screen in liver cells to discover parasite and host processes involved in Plasmodium parasite infection. Their findings highlight the dependence of Plasmodium on host factors within hepatocytes, which may be leveraged to develop host-based inhibitors for disease control as well as understand the biology of this elusive parasite stage. 

Emily Derbyshire, assistant professor at Duke University, uses both chemical tools and biological methods to uncover novel aspects of malaria parasite biology with the ultimate aim of identifying druggable targets. Projects range from developing assays for phenotypic and target-based screens to exploring biological pathways and identifying small molecules with potential therapeutic value. Their interdisciplinary collaborative program integrates chemical biology, molecular biology and biochemistry to globally interrogate parasite biology. Read more from Professor Derbyshire's faculty profile.