Leishmaniasis is an important disease and the parasite is transmitted by blood-sucking sand flies with approximately two million new cases every year and one tenth of the world’s population at risk of infection.
My science research is based at the School of Health and Medicine at Lancaster University. My work has been funded variously by the Wellcome Trust, BBSRC, the Leverhulme Trust and Brazilian Government.
Leishmania are parasites transmitted by the bite of the small midge–like phlebotomine sand fly.
One of the main ways to control leishmaniasis is to control the insect or disrupt the insect part of the parasite life cycle (pdf of cycle) but our knowledge of the sand fly in relation to development of the parasite is inadequate for developing new targets for control.
drawing depicts a male (left) and female sand fly. Drawn by a colleague the late Dr Bruce Alexander.
One of our main projects is to identify the genes involved in the interaction of the sand fly and the parasite that it transmits and this will greatly extend our knowledge of the interaction between insect and Leishmania and provide a sound basis for developing new control systems for this disease. I am involved in field based research examining sand fly biology and the spread of the disease in urban environments in for example in Brazil.
We have been working towards sequencing two species of sandflies in the sandfly genome sequencing consortium. My sand fly colony has been used for the Lutzomyia longipalpis genome sequencing project. The genome data is accessible at Vectorbase.
If you are searching for general information about Leishmania there are a couple of good sites which might give you the information that you want. There is a WHO site on Leishmania and a leishmaniasis disease information site provided by TDR (a research and training programme for tropical diseases).
Please note that we are unable to advise you about issues relating to your personal health and leishmaniasis.
We research many aspects of sand flies and their Leishmania parasites in both the laboratory and field work, we are always interested to discuss potential collaborative projects. Get in touch with me if you want to chat about collaborations or perhaps PhD studies on Leishmania and sand flies.