Odom lab news
Congrats to the following Odom lab members!
- Ann Guggisberg, who passed her Qualifying Exam in Molecular Genetics and Genomics!
- Ting Li, awarded BOTH an Alpha Omega Alpha summer research fellowship and a APS/SPR summer research fellowship
- Megan Kelly, 2012 Amgen Scholar
- Miles Black, awarded BOTH the American Society for Microbiology Capstone Award, and a 2012 ASM Undergraduate Research Fellowship
- Audrey Odom, St. Louis Academy of Sciences Innovator Award
- Leah Imlay, Keystone Symposium Graduate Student Travel Award
Odom lab research overview
There is an urgent need for new drugs to treat malaria, which causes nearly one million deaths per year, mostly in very young children. Our lab aims to improve the fundamental understanding of the basic molecular and cellular biology of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, in order to identify new antimalarial drug targets. Our primary research goals are to understand the biological functions of specific metabolic and signaling pathways in the malaria parasite--that is, to understand what the parasite needs to make, and why it needs to make it.
Our lab is part of the Pathobiology Research Unit in the Department of Pediatrics. We are located on the 6th floor of the McDonnell Pediatric Research Building.
Current research projects
MEP pathway inhibitors:
We are interested in the non-mevalonate pathway (MEP) pathway of isoprenoid biosynthesis in P. falciparum. This pathway is required for malaria parasite growth, but not present in humans. The MEP pathway is shared by several additional important global pathogens, most notably Mycobacterium tuberculosis and all Gram negative bacteria. Novel agents that target this pathway may represent a safe new class of broad-spectrum antibacterial, antituberculous, and antimalarial agents. Dr. Odom is principle investigator on an international collaborative research project, funded by the Children’s Discovery Institute, to develop new inhibitors to one of the MEP pathway enzymes. Read more about this project here.
Biological functions of isoprenoids:
Isoprenoids are a very diverse class of biomolecules with numerous functions within the cell, including co-factors, electron transport, and signaling molecules. We have genetically and chemically validated isoprenoid biosynthesis as absolutely essential to malaria parasite growth. Projects in the lab use a variety of genetic, metabolomic, and biochemical approaches to understand why isoprenoids are required for Plasmodia development and how cells regulate flux through the MEP pathway.
Cool 1943 Disney malaria education film, featuring the Seven Dwarves!