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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