Matt Marti Lab

Watch our introductory video to learn about the group and our research.

 

Meet the Team

A close up face shot of Ms Gillian Parker

Ms Gillian Parker

Laboratory Manager (Parasitology)
Biography: I joined Professor Matthias Marti‘s group as lab manager in 2018. Before moving to the department of Parasitology, I was a lab manager and research assistant in Professor Martin Allday’s group in Department of Virology, Imperial College, London for 24 years. The lab’s main interest was the role of the Epstein Barr Virus in the development of human malignancies. During this time, I gained a wealth of technical experience in cell biology protein biochemistry and the generation Recombinant Viruses. Prior to this, I worked as a research assistant at Beatson Institute for Cancer Research Glasgow and in Department of Dermatology, University of Glasgow. As a student I studied Biology at the University of Strathclyde and went on to complete a MSc in Biochemistry and Molecular biology at the University of Dundee.
Role: My main role is to ensure the efficient running of the laboratory and associated areas, including the GBRC CL3 suites as well as carrying out administrative duties and overseeing health and safety management. When required, I also provide technical support to researchers.

 

A head and shoulders shot of Dr Fioan Achcar

Dr Fiona Achcar

Bioinformatician (Parasitology)
Biography: After a master in bioinformatics, I completed my PhD in the Jacques Monod Institute in Paris in 2010, working on modelling iron homeostasis in yeast and human. I then moved to Glasgow to work on modelling Trypanosoma brucei energy metabolism. During this first postdoc, I started to work with metabolomics data, as well as on various aspects of parasite metabolism (TrypanosomesLeishmania and Plasmodium) and their adaptation to the environment. I joined the Marti Lab, where I am the bioinformatician of the team, analysing omics data as well as specifically working on understanding mechanisms of Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte production, in 2018. 
Research Interests: I am interested in any project using computational approaches to answer a specific biological question. Currently, I’m investigating the interplay between Plasmodium cellular metabolism and transmission.

 

Dr Priscilla W. Ngotho head and shoulders shot

Dr Priscilla W. Ngotho

Research Assistant (Parasitology)
Biography: I obtained my PhD at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme Kilifi, Kenya in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust Sanger institute Cambridge, UK. My research was aimed at characterizing expression profiles of P. falciparum variant surface antigen gene families, rif and stevor, during the asexual blood stages of the parasite. Over the course of my PhD I acquired skills and knowledge to study host-parasite interactions in the non-transmissible forms of the malaria parasite. 
Research Interests: Currently, I am interested in understanding host-parasite interactions and how people develop immune responses, primarily immunity that can block malaria transmission. Specifically, I study how P. falciparum transmissible forms (gametocytes) remodel infected host red blood cells, and the immune responses induced by these modifications. I utilize flow cytometry, fluorescence microscopy, transgenic parasite lines and drug perturbations to study changes in host cell membrane lipid composition and surface antigen expression.  My long-term goal is to carry out collaborative research to develop tools and techniques towards design and advancement of novel approaches that can potentially block malaria transmission as well as prevent disease.  

 

A head and shoulder selfie of Dr Lauriane Sollelis

Dr Lauriane Sollelis

Research Assistant (Parasitology)
Biography: I obtained my master's degree in genetics and biochemistry from Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III in France in 2008. I then joined the Research Unit CNRS UMR 5235 LPHI ex DIMNP in Montpellier, France with Dr. Henri Vial, as a research assistant. In five-and-a-half years there, my work contributed to the characterization of enzymes involved in phospholipid biosynthesis in Plasmodium falciparum. In 2016, I obtained my PhD in Parasitology from the University of Montpellier, France, funded by the Labex ParaFrap an international PhD program. I worked under the co-supervision of Dr. Yvon Sterkers (CHRU -UMR MIVEGEC) and Prof Artur Scherf (BIHP - Pasteur Institute, Paris) and studied DNA replication in Leishmania parasites and for the first time implemented the genetic tool CRISPR-Cas9 to study this parasite. It was in 2017 that I joined the team of Prof. Mattias Marti for my postdoc. 
Research Interests: Currently, I  am interested in understanding how the deprivation of a lipid host factor, lyso-phosphatidylcholine, triggers sexual commitment in Plasmodium falciparum. I am investigating parasite metabolism and gene activation to find a link between metabolites and gametocytes formation as well as looking at how parasite genotypes can play a role in transmission. In the battle against malaria, it is important to target gametocyte formation to block parasite transmission.  

 

A head and shoulders shot of Kannan Venugopal with a field in the background

Dr Kannan Venugopal

Research Assistant (Parasitology)
Biography: I obtained my masters degree in biomedical sciences from Bharathidasan University, India in 2011. Following a stint as a research assistant at the University of Crete in Greece, I moved to France in 2013. I did my PhD under the LabEx ParaFrap International PhD program in the lab of Dr Sabrina Marion at the Institut Pasteur de Lille, co-supervised by Dr Gordon Langsley from Institut Cochin, Paris. During my PhD, I studied protein trafficking in the apicomplexan parasite Toxoplasma gondii, focussing on two protein molecules AP1 and Rab11A, and their functions in the parasite lytic cycle. Following my PhD, I moved to Glasgow for my postdoc to work in the lab of Prof Matthias Marti. 
Research Interests: My work is focussed on the characterisation of sexual merozoites in Plasmodium as a novel cell state. Recently published transcriptional studies and previous work on early gametocyte development have helped us identify sexual stage specific merozoite antigens. In this context I have generated transgenic parasite lines in both the human malaria parasite P.falciparum and the rodent malaria model P.berghei, with my target genes tagged and knocked out to perform localisation and functional characterisation. I have also actively invested efforts in establishing a pipeline to study parasite host interactions using organs on a chip, specifically the bone marrow microenvironment. 

 

A head and shoulders shot of Franziska Hentzschel

Dr Franziska Hentzschel

Research Fellow (Parasitology)
Biography: A postdoctoral fellow in the Marti lab, I obtained my bachelor's degree in biochemistry in Munich, Germany, followed by a master's degree in Molecular Biosciences/Infectious Diseases in Heidelberg, Germany. In Heidelberg, I also completed my PhD focussing on engineering an artificial RNAi machinery into the Plasmodium berghei parasite under the joint supervision of Dr Ann-Kristin Mueller and Dr Dirk Grimm. I’ve since then taken up a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the DFG and moved on to Glasgow where I now enjoy working with Professor Matt Marti.
Research Interests: On the one hand, I am interested in how the host environment shapes blood stage development. We employ state-of-the-art dual single-cell RNAseq technology to profile P. berghei parasites and their host cells in spleen, bone marrow and blood, and now investigate parasite adaptation to the various compartments and the age of the surrounding red blood cell. On the other hand, I am investigating parasite development in the mosquito. I have identified a single gene that is essential for mosquito transmission, and I am currently trying to identify the underlying mechanism. 

 

Matthew Gibbins head and shoulder shot

Dr Matt Gibbins

Research Assistant (Parasitology)
Biography: I studied BSc Biochemistry at University of Nottingham and then a PhD studying the immunology of malaria at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine before joining the group of Prof Matthias Marti in Glasgow to investigate Plasmodium in the skin.
Research Interests: During my PhD I studied the pre-erythrocytic stages of malaria, following the parasites injected by the mosquito as they travelled to the liver, dissecting the CD8+ T cell response to sporozoite and liver stage antigens. Now, I am investigating where the sexual forms of the parasite, gametocytes, reside in the skin and bone marrow and how they ensure their return to the mosquito. I am particularly interested in the interactions between the parasite and its mammalian and mosquito hosts. I am investigating the processes that the parasite employs to maximise mosquito uptake and thus transmission using various histological analyses and different types of microscopy.

 

A head and shoulders shot of Dr Giulia Giallonardi in which she is looking away from the camera

Dr Giulia Giallonardi

Research Assistant (Parasitology)
Biography:  I obtained my master’s degree in Biology for Molecular, Cellular and Pathophysiological Research at University Roma Tre in Italy, where I later obtained my PhD in Biomedical Sciences and Technologies. During my PhD I investigated the quorum sensing in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and focused on drug repurposing to discover new therapies as an alternative to antibiotics to combat P. aeruginosa infections. I joined the University of Glasgow in 2018 as a post-doc, in the lab led by Professor Matthias Marti.
Research Interests: I have been intrigued by parasites, bacteria and viruses from the beginning of my education. I am currently investigating the mechanisms of interaction between P. falciparum and the host. In particular, I am studying the Plasmodium helical interspersed sub-telomeric c (PHISTc) protein family. PHISTc is a group of exported proteins which is conserved across Plasmodium species and stages and is involved in the remodelling of the infected red blood cell (iRBC). Accordingly, with literature data, my results suggest that PHISTc are involved in the trafficking of the major surface antigen PfEMP1 to the surface of iRBC. Understanding in depth, the mechanism of action of PHISTc could lead to the design of interventions that are capable of simultaneously targeting the asexual and transmissible stages of the parasite.

 

A head and shoulders shot of Dr Joao Luiz Da Silva Filho woth grass in the background

Dr Joao Luiz Da Silva Filho

Research Associate (Parasitology)
Biography: I obtained my PhD degree in Immunology from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2015. During my PhD, I obtained a fellowship to develop my research project at Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD, USA), under the supervision of Dr Fidel Zavala. There, I studied the immunoregulatory actions of the renin-angiotensin system, currently in focus because of ACE2, the coronavirus entry receptor. My research focused on investigating how Angiotensin peptides regulate Plasmodium-specific CD8+ T cells response during liver and blood-stage malaria, with the aim to understand the cellular mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of severe malaria and identify potential targets for adjuvant therapies. Following my PhD, I joined the group of Dr Fabio Costa at University of Campinas, where I started a research project investigating the pathogenesis of malaria vivax in human patients. In 2019, I took up a postdoctoral fellowship funded by FAPESP and moved on to Glasgow where I have since been working with Professor Matthias Marti.
Research Interests:  At present, I am investigating a new paradigm: parasite enrichment in the hematopoietic niche, with focus on Plasmodium vivax, the most globally widespread malaria parasite. My work studies naturally infected patients from a series of tailored and complementary clinical cohorts, where, in collaboration with a team of leading malaria researchers, I apply innovative and cutting-edge technologies to perform the first systematic study investigating P. vivax infection in the hematopoietic niche. We characterise parasite and host biology in infected tissues and investigate their behavior ex vivo. My long-term goal is to carry out collaborative research to develop tools and techniques towards a better understanding of Plasmodium biology and pathogenesis and provide tools for the development of new malaria diagnostic and control measures in support of the ongoing malaria elimination agenda.

 

A head and shoulders shot of Ana Belen Garcia Mendez looking over her right shoulder towards the camera with ocean waves on a rocky shore in the background

Ms Ana Belen Garcia Mendez

Technician (Parasitology)
Biography: I graduated with a B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Granada in 2016. I then gained a master’s degree in research and diagnosis of tropical diseases from the University of La Laguna in 2017. Both my bachelor’s and master’s degree dissertations involved the assessment of the activities of several drug compounds against Leishmania major and Trypanosoma cruzi. These experiences stirred my interests in parasitology. In 2018, I was awarded a competitive Erasmus+ scholarship, which allowed me to join the group of Professor Fiona Henriquez at the University of the West of Scotland in Paisley for six months. I worked on two investigative projects. One of these was 'Nanokicking in Acanthamoeba', which involved a novel technique using a bioreactor that generates nanovibrations with the aim of understanding its effects on Acanthamoeba castellani. The second was based on the evaluation of various drugs to determine their activity against this pathogen
Role: I joined the Marti Lab as a technician in 2019. My main tasks are to support the outgoing research projects in the laboratory. I carry out several molecular biology experiments such as cloning and transfection, maintenance of inventories of biological reagents and materials, and ensure proper functioning of the laboratory.

 

A head and shoulders shot of Lauren Galloway on a plain background

Ms Lauren Galloway

PhD Student
Biography: I graduated from the University of Glasgow with an MSci in Parasitology in 2019. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I worked on a number of research projects covering several parasites. My first two projects involved investigating antigenic variation in African trypanosomes under the supervision of Professor Richard McCulloch and Dr Emma Briggs here at the University of Glasgow. Thereafter, I spent a year at The Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh) on a work placement where I investigated asymptomatic malaria, anaemia and neutrophil function under the supervision of Professor Eleanor Riley and Dr Jason Mooney. As part of the project, I participated in field work at the MRC in The Gambia. In 2018, I became an Amgen Scholar at the Institut Pasteur, working on optimising ddPCR to determine the proportion of piperaquine resistant Plasmodium falciparum. For my final year project, I investigated nucleotide and energy metabolism in growth arrested persister type Leishmania under the supervision of Professor Mike Barrett. In September of 2019, I joined the Marti Lab as a Precision Medicine PhD student.
Research Interests: For my PhD project, I am exploring Plasmodium falciparum novel binding interactions in the haematopoietic niche of the host. The haematopoietic niche of the bone marrow - and possibly the spleen - has recently been identified as a major reservoir of malaria parasites, both in the asexual and sexual stages of their life cycle. My project will focus on the asexual stages within this niche and whether they display any novel binding phenotypes. While asexual sequestration is not unusual, the bone marrow offers a unique physiological environment which may permit unique interactions. Indeed, from preliminary data, it appears that asexuals within the bone marrow are distinct from those that sequester in other organs of the host.