Odom lab news

Congrats to the following Odom lab members!

  • Ann Guggisberg, Monsanto Excellence Fund Graduate Student Fellowship
  • Chad Schaber, Monsanto Excellence Fund Graduate Student Fellowship
  • Audrey Odom, March of Dimes Basil O'Connor Award
  • Megan Kelly, Marion Specter Prize for best undergraduate biology thesis

Odom lab research overview

New drugs are urgently needed to treat malaria, which causes nearly one million deaths per year, mostly very young children. We study 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 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 principal 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 parasite development and how cells regulate flux through the MEP pathway.

Cool 1943 Disney malaria education film, featuring the Seven Dwarves!

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Our 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty — the Washington University Physicians
— also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals.
Through its hospital affiliations, the School is linked to BJC HealthCare.
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