Laurence D. Sibley, PhD
Professor of Molecular Microbiology
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Washington University in St. Louis (WU)
We are involved in basic cellular and molecular biology studies of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, an extremely widespread parasite that is an important opportunist pathogen in humans. Factors that predict disease severity are presently poorly understood and toxoplasmosis presents a model system for the study of genetic components that underlie pathogen virulence as well as control innate and adaptive immunity in the host. We have developed molecular methods for analyzing the genetic diversity of T. gondii in clinical isolates and are collaborating with research teams in Brazil, Africa, Asia, and Europe. These studies aim to define global patterns of genetic diversity in T. gondii as they relate to clinical toxoplasmosis. Our basic scientific investigations have identified several novel pathways that mediate parasite survival and disease potential and we are currently exploring the use of small molecule inhibitors to target these pathways, thus potentially providing improved therapies.