Published the 20/02/2017 in Opportunities

NEK kinases as novel therapeutic targets in malaria

Applications are invited from highly motivated and enthusiastic candidates for an MRC-funded PhD studentship aimed at identifying new therapeutic approaches to malaria.

Plasmodium, the causative agent of malaria, leads to 200 million cases and kills more than half a million people annually. Measures to control exposure to the mosquito vector have met with limited success and resistance to current drugs is emerging rapidly. This project will explore the roles of four NEK kinases expressed by the parasite and test their potential as novel therapeutic targets for malaria.

The objectives are to:

  • define the subcellular localisation of NEKs during the parasite life cycle using advanced imaging techniques;
  • use tagged NEK transgenic lines and mass spectrometry to identify interacting partners; and
  • study the function of NEKs in parasite proliferation using conditional gene targeting in cell and animal models.

The results will provide key insights on how targeting NEK kinases could kill the malaria parasite.

This exciting multidisciplinary project will be supervised by international leaders in the fields of NEK kinases and malaria biology1,2, provide training in cutting-edge techniques from quantitative microscopy to CRISPR-mediated gene-editing, and opportunities for research visits to the Crick Institute and MRC Harwell Research Centre.


Professor Andrew Fry and Professor Rita Tewari

1: Fry AM, O’Regan L, Sabir SR and Bayliss R. 2012. Cell cycle regulation by the NEK family of protein kinases. Journal of Cell Science 125:4423-4433. (: 10.1242/jcs.111195)
2: Tewari R, Straschil U, Bateman A, Böhme U, Cherevach I, Gong P, Pain A and Billker O. 2010. The systematic functional analysis of Plasmodium protein kinases identifies essential regulators of mosquito transmission. Cell Host & Microbe 8:377-387. (: 10.1016/j.chom.2010.09.006)

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