Matt Marti Lab

Meet the Team

A head and shoulders shot of Professor Matt Marti

Professor Matthias Marti

Laboratory Head
Biography: Originally on track as a school teacher, I started to work on infectious diseases during my University Diploma at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel in 1995 (supervision: Professor Reto Brun). After training in biochemistry in a parasite lab at University of Texas, El Paso (supervision Prof Sid Das), I did a PhD on the cell biology of the intestinal parasite Giardia lambla at the Institute of Parasitology in Zurich (supervision Profs Adrian Hehl and Peter Koehler). A postdoc in the in the lab of Prof Alan Cowman at WEHI in Melbourne (Australia) introduced me to malaria research, with a research focus on host parasite interactions. In 2007, I started as an Assistant Professor at Harvard School of Public Health, Boston. Since then, I have developed an interdisciplinary programme focused on malaria transmission at the intersection between basic research, field studies and translation. In 2016, I was hired as a Professor in Parasitology at the University of Glasgow, and in 2022 appointed as chair in Parasitology and head of the Institute of Parasitology (University of Zurich).


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 megan peedell 

Megan Peedell

Technician (Parasitology)
Biography: I gained a BSc in Biomedical Sciences in 2019 and a Master of Research degree in Infection Biology in 2020, both from the University of Manchester. Throughout my university education, I worked on projects researching both Plasmodium and Schistosoma parasites. Since then, I have worked in the UK lighthouse laboratory network in the national effort to provide COVID-19 PCR tests to people during the pandemic, as well as spending a year in Berlin working at the Institute for Tropical Medicine and International Health at the Charité University Hospital on a number of Malaria and Ascaris based research projects.
Role/Research Interests: I joined the Marti group as a lab technician in June 2022, and my role consists primarily of providing technical support to researchers. I work closely alongside our lab manager, Gillian, to ensure smooth day-to day functioning of the lab by maintaining lab stocks and performing equipment maintenance. I also contribute to the research outputs of the lab by performing assays, mostly as part of a project under the supervision of senior postdoc Priscilla, which broadly consists of investigating the dynamics of antigen expression by P. falciparum gametocytes.


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 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 barbara stokes

Dr Barbara Stokes

Marie Curie Fellowship (Parasitology)
Biography: I obtained my bachelor's degree from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where I studied Comparative Literature. After two years at the University of Massachusetts in Boston doing post-baccalaureate work, I began my PhD in the department of Microbiology & Immunology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. During my PhD, I studied mechanisms of antimalarial drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum parasites in the laboratory of Professor David Fidock. My work focused on mechanisms of resistance to the first-line antimalarial therapy artemisinin, as well as on selective inhibitors of the Plasmodium proteasome, a novel class of antimalarial compounds currently under drug development. I moved to Glasgow from New York in in 2021 to begin my postdoc in the Marti Lab.
Research Interests: My research in the Marti Lab is centred on investigating determinants of sexual differentiation in Plasmodium falciparum, with particular focus on parasite development within the hematopoietic niche of the bone marrow. The identification of the bone marrow as a major reservoir for both asexual blood-stage parasite replication and the development of transmission-competent gametocyte stages transformed our understanding of parasite biology. Nonetheless, the complex cellular composition of the bone marrow and its relative inaccessibility means that development of parasites therein has remained an understudied area of Plasmodium biology. I am applying single cell RNA sequencing to study P. falciparum development within the bone marrow using a combination of ex vivo and in vitro approaches. I am particularly interested in how parasites sense and adapt to the unique cellular and extracellular environments of this niche, and in how these factors drive differentiation and cell fate determination.


A head and shoulders shot of lauren galloway

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: Following the identification of the haematopoietic niches (bone marrow and spleen) as important reservoirs of asexual and sexual stages of Plasmodium falciparum, my PhD project aims to phenotypically and transcriptionally characterise parasites within these niches. Here, I’m using histological approaches to investigate parasites in the intravascular and extravascular spaces of the haematopoietic niches in fatal P. falciparum malaria cases and non-malarial controls from Malawi. Further to this, I am exploring how sequestered parasites in these niches may be transcriptionally distinct from those sequestered elsewhere in the body using a single cell RNA sequencing approach.


A head and shoulders shot of Lizzie Tchongwe-Divala

Lizzie Tchongwe-Divala

PhD Student
Biography: I am a PhD student on the University of Glasgow Integrative infection biology Wellcome Trust PhD programme – first cohort (2020). I am passionate about parasite vector interaction driven by the need to have a malaria free world after experiencing the malaria disease burden in Malawi, Sub-Saharan Africa. I graduated with a BSc in medical laboratory sciences at Kamuzu University of Health Sciences in Blantyre, Malawi, which I completed in 2011. I then joined a diagnostic laboratory in Malawi’s largest referral hospital cementing my understanding of the burden of malaria and my passion to be part of the solution. In 2016 I started my research journey by joining the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome trust clinical research program as a research intern. Specifically, my work focused on exploring genetic diversity in Plasmodium falciparum. In 2017, I secured a Wellcome trust masters fellowship to study a master’s degree in Molecular biology of parasites and disease vectors at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. My MSc research was an investigation of copy number variants in insecticide resistant Anopheles gambiae population and its potential role in metabolic insecticide resistance. Post Msc I focused on a project to identify genetic drivers of insecticide resistance in Anopheles gambiae in Chikwawa, Malawi.
Research Interests: I joined the Marti Lab in May 2021. My research question is on genetic determinants of malaria transmission under the supervision of Prof Matthias Marti and Dr Virginia Howick. My specific focus is on candidate genes with a potential role in Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte development and infectiousness in the Anopheles vector. My work will involve reverse genetics, parasite culture, sexual commitment assays and mosquito infections. I am so excited to have this amazing opportunity with a research question exploring an important aspect in the parasite development and transmission, which could contribute to discovery of transmission blocking targets, supported by leaders in malaria research.


A head and shoulders shot of luis tavernelli

Dr Luis Tavernelli

Research Associate
Biography: I obtained my Master’s degree in Molecular Biology at the National University of San Luis (Argentina) in 2013. I then joined the lab of Molecular Biochemistry of Trypanosomes led by Professor Esteban Serra at the University of Rosario (Argentina), where I pursued my PhD. In a five-year program, I mainly focused on studying nuclear factors and their involvement in epigenetics and gene expression in the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiological agent of Chagas Disease. After finishing my PhD, I moved to Spain where I led a project at Pharmaceutic GSK located in Tres Cantos, Madrid. This project had the focused of finding inhibitors against proteins called Bromodomains with the hope of discovering new targets to fight the disease caused by the parasite T. cruzi. In 2023, I joined Professor Mattias Marti for my postdoc.
Research Interests: Currently, I am interested in understanding the mechanisms and factors involved in the modification of the red blood cell after Plasmodium falciparum’s cell invasion.


A head and shoulder shot of Matt Gibbins

Dr Matt Gibbins

Wellcome Early Career Award Fellow (Parasitology)
Biography: I studied BSc Biochemistry at University of Nottingham and then a PhD studying the immunology of the pre-erythrocytic stages of malaria in the liver at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the laboratory of Dr Julius Hafalla and co-supervised by Prof Eleanor Riley. I joined the Marti group in Glasgow as a postdoc in. November 2018 to investigate Plasmodium in the skin. In November 2023, I was awarded a Wellcome Early Career Award Fellowship to further investigate Plasmodium gametocytes in the skin by intravital imaging.
Research Interests: During my PhD I studied the immune responses to pre-erythrocytic stages of malaria, where sporozoite forms of the parasite are injected by the mosquito and travel to the liver to develop within hepatocytes. Here I dissected the CD8+ T cell responses to sporozoite and liver stage antigens. In the Marti Lab, I have been 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. In my Fellowship, I am currently investigating the processes that lead to successful transmission in very low burden infections, using intravital imaging and various histological methods to observe gametocytes in the skin.


A head and shoulders shot of Tom Purnell

Tom Purnell

Technician (Parasitology)
Biography: I started as a Technician at MRC Harwell in 2005, before moving to the Deafness Group as a Research Assistant, primarily studying Otitis Media and phenotyping the disease. I moved to Glasgow and joined Megan MacLeod’s lab in 2019 as a Research Technician for their Wellcome grant, where I worked on in vivo and in vitro experiments and supported the post-docs and students in the group throughout their projects. I joined the Gibbins Team in 2024, where I am investigating the interactions between mosquitoes, Plasmodium, and the host’s skin. 
Role: My role is to provide technical support to the project leader as well as students and visiting researchers. I also ensure that the lab runs smoothly and efficiently by managing the team’s ever-evolving needs. This includes developing and supporting the intravital imaging and histology aspects of the project.


A head and shoulders shot of Sina Hasler

Sina Hasler

Lab Technician
Biography: In 2017, I successfully completed my apprenticeship as a biology laboratory technician EFZ at Eawag in Dübendorf, Zurich. Following that, I had the opportunity to work for an additional year in water research at Eawag. Subsequently, I spent two months in Calgary, Canada for English language acquisition. In May 2019, I had the privilege of working as a laboratory technician at the Institute of Parasitology under Professor Peter Deplazes and Dr Ramon Eichenberger. Following Professor Deplazes' retirement, I took over the role of the new laboratory technician for Professor Matthias Marti in malaria research. In March 2023, alongside my work, I commenced further education as a certified natural science laboratory technician HFP at BBW in Winterthur.
Role: I am the head laboratory technician for the research groups at the Institute of Parasitology, UZH. My main responsibility is the management of the Malaria transmission lab and research on P. falciparum.


A head and shoulder selfie of Dr Lauriane Sollelis

Dr Lauriane Sollelis

Research Associate
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 Gillian Muchaamba

Dr Gillian Muchaamba

PhD Student
Biography: I joined the Institute of Parasitology for my veterinary doctorate studies under Professor Deplazes in 2020 in the Zoonoses and Translational Research Group. My work focused on the amplification of cestode DNA on the peri-anal region of foxes as a potential sampling method for human taeniosis. After the completion of my work in 2021, I worked as a post-doc investigating Echinococcus granulosus in Cape Verde in environmental dog faeces and intermediate hosts at slaughterhouses. In this study we were able to unravel the transmission of E. granulosus s.l. G7, in pigs, cattle and dogs in Cape Verde. 
Research Interests: I joined the Malaria Transmission Lab under Professor Marti in October 2022 as a PhD student. My research at the moment focuses on unveiling the transmission dynamics and pathology of avian malaria in zoos in Switzerland. Furthermore, I would like to understand the pathogenicity of avian Plasmodium parasites in non-adapted (penguins) and adapted (wild birds) hosts.


A head and shoulders shot of Simon Sichone

Simon Sichone 

PhD Student
Biography: I am a PhD student at University of Zurich (Microbiology and Immunology PhD program) and funded by the Swiss national science foundation (SNF). I am passionate about understanding the biology of host-parasite interactions during an infection with malaria parasites. I aim to use my knowledge as a tool in the fight for malaria elimination, especially in countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with high malaria disease burden such as Malawi. I graduated with a BSc in biomedical sciences at Mzuzu University, Malawi, which I completed in 2016. I then joined Kamuzu Central Hospital which is among Malawi's largest referral hospitals where I worked at the parasitology department. In 2018, I joined the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome trust clinical research program as a research assistant, working on the first human challenge model in testing the effectiveness of  pneumococcal vaccine (PCV 13) on healthy individuals . In 2020, I secured a core training grant from Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome trust training committee to do a master's degree in Public health at the University of Suffolk. My MSc research assessed the health needs and the burden of infectious diseases in Malawi in children under five.
Research Interests: I joined the Marti Lab in October 2022. My research aim is to develop an atlas of host-parasite interactions during infection in the hematopoietic niche of the major human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum and validate specific findings in vitro. This project is in close collaboration with Dr Chris Moxon (Malawi and Glasgow, my co-supervisor), Professor Thomas Otto (Glasgow), as well as Professor Terrie Tylor and Profesor Karl Seydel (Malawi and Michigan State University). My specific focus is to investigate host parasite interactions in bone marrow and spleen using IFA and imaging mass cytometry. I anticipate that this series of experiments will provide the first quantitative atlas on parasite and host cell signatures and their distribution across the hematopoietic compartments during P. falciparum infection. The findings would be critical for improving diagnostics and interventions to block transmission, reducing severe disease, and modifying the immune response.


A head and shoulders shot of nicole langejan

Nicole Langejan  

PhD Student
Biography: I am a PhD student enrolled in the Microbiology and Immunology PhD program at the University of Zurich. I earned my Bachelor's degree (2021) in Human Health and Life Sciences from the Vrije University (VU), Amsterdam. During this period, I became intrigued with infectious diseases' molecular and genetic mechanisms, leading me to pursue a Master's degree in Biomedical Science with specializations in Infectious disease and Biomolecular Science. The parasitology course triggered my interest in parasites and my determination to forge a career in parasitic research. With this goal in mind, I joined Prof. Preiser’s Malaria Invasion group at the Nanyang Technological University for my final internship. Here I focused on unraveling the mechanism of Plasmodium falciparum invading the red blood cells of its non-primary host, the mouse. 
Research Interests: I joined the Marti lab in November 2023. My research focuses on understanding the determinants of malaria transmission, particularly in the context of genetically diverse Plasmodium falciparum strains. Of particular interest is the formation of the sexual stage, crucial for transmission to the mosquito vector, which deviates from the linear progression observed in other stages. These variations in sexual commitment rates and sex ratios across strains arise from a combination of genetic and environmental factors in the host microenvironment. In close collaboration with Professor Ashley Vaughan (Seattle Children’s), we will create P. falciparum genetic crosses using human-liver chimeric mice. These will be used to identify genetic loci associated with variation in sexual commitment and sex ratio rates. This research sheds light on the underlying mechanisms governing malaria transmission and contributes to developing targeted interventions.


A head and shoulders shot of Franziska Hentzschel

Dr Franziska Hentzschel

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 then took up a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the DFG and moved on to Glasgow where I enjoyed 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.