The Parasites and Insect Vectors Department investigates the life cycle of parasites and their vectors. This research addresses global public health concerns and tackles the ongoing need for better prevention, control, and treatment.
The department focuses its research on three key eukaryotic parasites responsible for severe diseases of major health and economic burden in most of the world’s regions: Plasmodium species, which cause malaria; Leishmania species, the causative agents of leishmaniasis; and Trypanosoma species, responsible for sleeping sickness. The Anopheles mosquito (the vector of Plasmodium and viruses) is also studied, as is the tsetse fly (the sleeping sickness vector). The department combines fundamental research on in vitro and in vivo models – including field work, particularly in Africa and Asia – with applied research, for example on the resistance of the malaria parasite to antimalarial drugs, and the identification of new antiparasitic drugs. Novel experimental models and tools are developed to help understand the dynamic interactions between these microorganisms and their hosts, identify the fundamental bases of parasitism and transmission by vectors, reveal host invasion mechanisms, and determine the virulence factors, pathology, and survival strategies of these organisms.