Associate Professor of Pathology
The Lamb Lab
Neurobiology of Disease
B.Sc. 1999, University of Glasgow, Scotland; Ph.D., 2004, University of Edinburgh, Scotland
My NIH-funded lab works on malaria, a disease caused by infection with parasites of the genus Plasmodium. According to the World Malaria Report in 2016 there are over 200 million cases of malaria every year, resulting in approximately 500,000 deaths. Most of these deaths occur in children under 5 years, or in pregnant women. Cerebral malaria is a significant cause of malaria-associated fatalities during infection with Plasmodium falciparum. This condition is associated with breakdown of the blood brain barrier in response to sequestered infected red blood cells on the endothelium lining the brain microvasculature. In turn, this leads to vasogenic odema, herniation of the brain and death. The mechanisms by which the barrier breaks down during Plasmodium infections are incompletely understood.
We work closely with Dr Lawrence Ayong and Dr Carole Eboumbou at the Center du Pasteur Cameroon in Central Africa and also use rodent Plasmodium infections in mice to dissect the mechanisms blood brain barrier breakdown during cerebral malaria. We are primarily interested in identifying the molecular mechanisms of junction failure in the blood brain barrier during neuroinflammation associated with parasite sequestration. A second project is focused on determining the interplay between astrocytes, pericytes and endothelial cells during in the neuroinflammatory environment in Plasmodium infection. Lastly we are determining the molecular basis of cerebral malaria-associated retinopathy.