Professor Alan Cowman


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Division: Infection and Immunity

Research Overview

Our laboratory works predominantly on Plasmodium falciparum, the causative agent of the most severe form of malaria in humans. This disease causes millions of deaths and much suffering for people living in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Our main aim is to understand how this parasite infects humans and the mechanisms it uses to evade host immune responses as this knowledge is critical in identifying and designing new treatments and vaccines urgently required for this disease.

Research Interests

Selected Publications

  1. Boddey JA, Hodder AN, Gunther S, Gilson PR, Patsiouras H, Kapp EA, Pearce JA, de Koning-Ward TF, Simpson RJ, Crabb BS, Cowman AF. An aspartyl protease directs malaria effector proteins to the host cell. Nature 2010. 463: 627-21. PMID: 20130643
  2. deKoning-Ward TF, Gilson PR, Boddey JA, Rug M, Smith BJ, Papenfuss AT, Sanders PR, Lundie RJ, Maier AG, Cowman AF, Crabb BS. A newly discovered protein export machine in malaria parasites. Nature 2009. 459: 945-9. PMID: 19536257
  3. Tonkin CJ, Carret CK, Duraisingh MT, Voss TS, Ralph SA, Hommel M, Duffy MF, Mancio da Silva L, Scherf A, Ivens A, Speed TS, Beeson JG, Cowman AF. Sir2 paralogues cooperate to regulate virulence genes and antigenic variation in Plasmodium falciparum. Plos Biol 7:e84. PMID: 19402747
  4. Boddey JA, Moritz RL, Simpson RJ, Cowman AF. Role of the Plasmodium export element in trafficking parasite proteins to the infected erythrocyte. Traffic. 2009 Mar;10(3):285-99. PMID: 19055692
  5. Maier AG, Rug M, O'Neill MT, Brown M, Chakravorty S, Szestak T, Chesson J, Wu Y, Hughes K, Coppel RL, Newbold C, Beeson JG, Craig A, Crabb BS, Cowman AF. Exported proteins required for virulence and rigidity of Plasmodium falciparum-infected human erythrocytes Cell. 2008 Jul 11;134(1):48-61. PMID: 18614010
  6. Baum J, Tonkin CJ, Paul AS, Rug M, Smith BJ, Gould SB, Richard D, Pollard TD, Cowman AF. A malaria parasite formin regulates actin polymerization and localizes to the parasite-erythrocyte moving junction during invasion. Cell Host Microbe. 2008 Mar 13;3(3):188-98 PMID: 18329618
  7. Maier AG, Rug M, O'Neill MT, Beeson JG, Marti M, Reeder J, Cowman AF. Skeleton-binding protein 1 functions at the parasitophorous vacuole membrane to traffic PfEMP1 to the Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocyte surface. Blood. 2007 Feb 1;109(3):1289-97 PMID: 1702358
  8. Baum J, Papenfuss AT, Baum B, Speed TP, Cowman AF. Regulation of apicomplexan actin-based motility. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2006 Aug;4(8):621-8 PMID: 16845432
  9. Cowman AF, Crabb BS. Invasion of red blood cells by malaria parasites. Cell. 2006 Feb 24;124(4):755-66 PMID: 16497586
  10. Voss TS, Healer J, Marty AJ, Duffy MF, Thompson JK, Beeson JG, Reeder JC, Crabb BS, Cowman AF. A var gene promoter controls allelic exclusion of virulence genes in Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Nature. 2006 Feb 23;439(7079):1004-8 PMID: 16382237
  11. Stubbs J, Simpson KM, Triglia T, Plouffe D, Tonkin CJ, Duraisingh MT, Maier AG, Winzeler EA, Cowman AF. Molecular mechanism for switching of P. falciparum invasion pathways into human erythrocytes. Science. 2005 Aug 26;309(5739):1384-7 PMID: 16123303

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Current Laboratory Members

Faculty Member: Alan Cowman, BSc(Hons) Griffith FAA PhD Melb

Senior Postdoctoral Fellow: Justin Boddey, BBiomedSc(Hons) PhD Griffith

Senior Postdoctoral Fellow: Lin Chen, PhD LaTrobe

Senior Postdoctoral Fellow: Julie Healer, BSc(Hons) Glasgow M.Phil London PhD Edinburgh

Senior Postdoctoral Fellow: Melanie Rug, PhD Heidelberg

Senior Postdoctoral Fellow: Wai-Hong Tham, BA California PhD Princeton

Senior Postdoctoral Fellow: Alex Uboldi, BSc(Hons) PhD Witwatersrand

Postdoctoral Fellow: Teresa Carvalho

Postdoctoral Fellow: Svenja Gunther, PhD Glasgow

Postdoctoral Fellow: Thomas Nebl, PhD LaTrobe

Postdoctoral Fellow: Jennifer Volz, MSc Humboldt PhD EMBL

Senior Research Scientist: Tony Hodder, BSc(Hons) PhD Mon

Senior Research Scientist: Tony Triglia, BSc(Hons) MSc Melb

Research Assistant: Dejan Bursac

Research Assistant: Ping Cannon, BSc Shanghai

Research Assistant: Raksmei Keo

Research Assistant: Christine Langer

Research Assistant: Sash Lopaticki, BSc(Hons) VUT

Research Assistant: Matthew O'Neill, BSc(Hons) Melb

Research Assistant: Thuan Phuong, BSc(Hons) LaTrobe

Research Assistant: Jennifer Thompson, MSc Melb

UROP Student: Mark Hayes

Administrative Officer: Marian Cravino