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Sergey Kapishnikov

Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship

The dynamics of heme detoxification and the mechanism of action of antimalarial drugs in-vivo in malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum


Each year malaria disease causes up to one million deaths and 500 million hospitalizations. Growing threat of drug resistance by the malaria parasites underscores the need to develop new efficient antimalarial drugs. We aim to understand fundamental mechanisms involved in a critical process of parasitic detoxification of its digestion by-product, heme, and thus provide new intelligent targets for efficient antimalarial drug design.


We plan to apply quantitative tools of X-ray cryo-tomography and X-ray fluorescence to map distribution of heme, hemoglobin and lipids in three-dimensions via-a-vis the parasite ultrastructure with and without antimalarial drugs in order to characterize processes involved in heme detoxification and current drug interference with them.


Malaria parasites and other common pathogens develop antibiotic resistance at an alarming rate, which may end up in a disaster for public health. At the same time, new drug development is an expensive and lengthy process, often involving “brute-force” approach. More research must be done to identify and fully understand mechanisms critical for pathogen proliferation in order to devise efficient and swift strategies for new drug design.