Dr Sam Alsford
Since June 2012, Dr Sam Alsford has been pursuing a research programme focusing on the interactions between Trypanosoma brucei and its host environment. This work was initially funded by a two year LSHTM/Wellcome Trust Fellowship, and a three year project grant from the Medical Research Council.
He is particularly interested in the uptake and intracellular transit of parasite- and host-derived molecules, such as nutrients, drugs and innate immune factors. My research is underpinned by a combination of high-throughput forward genetic screens and reverse genetic approaches, enabling the identification and characterisation of proteins involved in the uptake and intracellular transit of these molecules, as well as the parasite's response to them.
He is currently developing research projects looking at understanding the mode-of-action of novel anti-T. brucei drugs and the current anti-leishmanials (Leishmania, a related kinetoplastid parasite, shares a lot of biochemical characteristics with T. brucei). Other projects under development include: the role of calcium signalling in density sensing and cell cycle control; and, the regulation of rDNA transcription and its impact on expression of the RNA polymerase I-transcribed VSG - the variant surface glycoprotein is a highly abundant protein on the surface coat, whose switching through antigenic variation enables T. brucei to avoid clearance by the mammalian immune system.
The full range of plasmids for tagged protein expression and RNAi knockdown in T. brucei, developed in conjunction with David Horn, are freely available to the research community - details can be found here.