Research in the David Sullivan Lab focuses on malaria, including its diagnosis, treatment, molecular biology as it relates to iron, and pathology as it relates to severe anemia. We test and develop new malaria diagnostics — from real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to novel urine and saliva detection platforms. This includes the adaptation of immuno-PCR (antibody coupled to DNA for PCR detection) to malaria and a lead blood stage drug that contains a quinine derivative used to treat malaria in the 1930s.
Current research in the Sean T. Prigge Lab explores the biochemical pathways found in the apicoplast, an essential organelle found in malaria parasites, using a combination of cell biology and genetic, biophysical and biochemical techniques. We are particularly focused on the pathways used for the biosynthesis and modification of fatty acids and associated enzyme cofactors, including pantothenate, lipoic acid, biotin and iron-sulfur clusters. We want to better understand how the cofactors are acquired and used, and whether they are essential for the growth of blood-stage malaria parasites.