Research Leader - Prof L Birkholtz

 

 

 

 

Prof Lyn-Marie Birkholtz [Email]
Associate Professor (Biochemistry)
DST/NRF South African Research Chair
in Sustainable Malaria Control

 

 

 

 

Background
Prof Lyn-Marie Birkholtz obtained a BSc in Genetics, Human Physiology and Biochemistry, and a BSc (Hons) and MSc in Biochemistry cum laude at the University of Pretoria. Her PhD study on biochemical aspects of malaria was completed in 2003, eight months of which was spent in laboratories in the USA and Germany, which subsequently led to a collaborative post-doctoral study with Germany. She is currently an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Pretoria and holds a DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Sustainable Malaria Control. 

Current research interests 
Prof Birkholtz’s research interest is focused on the physiology, biochemistry and pharmacology of malaria parasites. Biochemical distinctions between the malaria parasite and the human host, which are exploitable for the design of novel antimalarial chemotherapeuticals, are investigated. New knowledge on certain less well understood biological phenomena characteristic of the malaria parasite (e.g. gene regulatory mechanisms and cell cycle control) is being revealed using structural and functional genomic approaches. Principal contributions up to this time include elucidation of drug target structure-activity properties of proteins involved in underexplored metabolic pathways. This subsequently developed into a genome-wide investigation of the transcriptome, proteome and metabolome of the parasite after perturbation of these metabolic pathways, allowing explorations of the gene regulatory mechanisms that the parasite utilize to control its asexual proliferation in human erythrocytes. The research fills a niche area in malaria parasite biology that is still largely unexplored but allows me to broaden my research scope in the differentiation of asexual parasites into their transmission causing sexual forms, and understands these parasites on a biochemical level to contribute towards not only antimalarial chemotherapies but also transmission blocking strategies to ensure sustainable malaria control (read more...).


 

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