The lab's “mission” is to learn as much as we can about Toxoplasma biology and pathogenesis using the most powerful tools available to us ... and to enjoy the process! Our ultimate hope (and already it's worked out this way with a few projects) is to learn something that others can then develop into a product or procedure that proves useful in alleviating suffering from the serious diseases this and related parasites cause. We work on almost all aspects of Toxoplasma biology ranging from questions about how it can invade virtually any vertebrate cell it encounters (truly!) through to how infection sometimes is asymptomatic while other times it is fatal.
Over the years, we have found that by looking at the parasite “holistically” we find clues to solving one problem in the results that come from a project that, at least at the outset, we thought was completely unrelated. A perfect example of this is the discovery that injected rhoptry kinases are key to virulence. This result was dependent on four simultaneous efforts in the lab: 1) identification of the complete rhoptry proteome; 2) mapping the genes responsible for virulence; 3) finding Toxoplasma proteins that modulate host gene expression; and 4) identification of Toxoplasma loci that are under greatest evolutionary pressure for change. Of course, we started and remain heavily dependent on a great many collaborators and consider ourselves fortunate to work on a system where collegiality and cooperation are the rule not the exception! More »