Professor Waters receives £3m award

A graphic on a yellow background with the Wellcome logo and Discovery Awards text above in black

Head of School Professor Andy Waters has received a Discovery Award from the Wellcome Trust providing funding of over £3million to study the biology of gametocytogenesis in malaria parasites for the next five years. 

The Discovery Award scheme provides funding for established researchers and teams from any discipline who want to pursue bold and creative research ideas to deliver significant shifts in understanding that could improve human life, health and wellbeing.

Alongside fellow recipients Dr Rob Moon (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and Professor Yee Ling Lau (University of Malaysia), Professor Waters will combine the study of three different species of malaria parasite that respectively infect rodents, humans, and humans and monkeys.

Uniquely, the latter parasite, Plasmodium knowlesi, has been genetically repaired by this consortium so that it once again makes gametocytes and offers a comparative tool to understand sexual commitment, sex determination and gametocyte development. 

Gametocytes are sexual forms of malaria parasites that circulate in the blood and are responsible for transmission of the disease from mammalian host to mosquito vector. 

Professor Waters said: "We are very grateful to the Wellcome Trust for this exciting opportunity that will not only illuminate the biology of the early phase malaria parasite transmission but also offers the chance to develop tools and methods to interrupt the process in the ongoing quest to combat human malaria."

First published: 12 August 2022