Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Malaria is one of humanity’s most prevalent diseases. It causes hundreds of millions of infections annually and is the single largest cause of infant mortality in huge areas of Africa and South East Asia, killing a child every thirty seconds. Work in the Baum laboratory at WEHI aims to develop new drugs to treat malaria disease by targeting the unique way these deadly parasites move. As Jake explains, “Just as understanding the mechanics of a car allows you to fix them when they break down, my research aims to take apart the motor that drives the malaria parasite and, rather than repair it, find that critical part which, when targeted by a drug, stops movement. Literally throwing a spanner in the malaria motor”. To do this, Jake’s group at WEHI is pioneering super resolution imaging of parasites in action, imaging individual motor proteins and their regulators to deconstruct how they move.