Aaron Jex - Projects

Aaron Jex - Projects


Parasite drug development, resistance and stress responses

In this project stream, we use advanced sequencing and bioinformatics to understand how parasites respond to drugs at the molecular level and how these responses differ from those to heat, oxidative and other non-drug induced forms of stress.

We explore how these behaviours change as parasites (primarily Giardia duodenalis) develop drug resistance. The aim is to understand mechanisms of resistance to major antiparasitic drugs and, more generally, to identify general drug-induced responses that facilitate the development of drug resistance.

Ultimately, we use this information to guide efforts to develop new antiparasitic compounds. 

Parasite invasion, development and immune evasion

We use genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and epigenetic methods to explore the molecular biology underpinning parasite invasion of a new host, development within that host, and the methods by which the parasite interacts with and seeks to thwart the host immune attack against it.

This research project focuses primarily on human gastrointestinal helminthes, diarrhoeal pathogens (Giardia and Cryptosporidium) and relapsing malaria parasites (Plasmodium vivax). 

Diagnostic tools for gastrointestinal and aquatic microorganisms

This project stream focuses on the development and utilisation of molecular (primarily PCR-based) diagnostic tools for the rapid and specific identification and quantitation of gastrointestinal pathogens (helminths and diarrhoeal parasites) and select aquatic microorganisms (specific toxigenic and/or taste/odor compound producing cyanobacteria).

Within this research stream, we partner with the local Victorian water industry to test drinking, recreational and recycled water supplies for cyanobacteria that may reduce water quality or present a risk to the public or local wildlife.

Exploring gastrointestinal parasite impacts and epidemiology

This project stream is aimed at exploring and quantifying the importance of neglected gastrointestinal parasites in people in resource poor settings.

The current focus of this research is on evaluating the impact of gastrointestinal parasites on childhood health and development in Karen populations in refugee communities in northwest Thailand (Tha Song Yang region).

We will use PCR-based tools and microbiomic sequencing to support efforts to quantify the impact of gastrointestinal parasites in child health in the region. These will also assist in monitoring the effectiveness of a newly established childhood health intervention program aimed at controlling gastrointestinal infections and improving child health.