Craig Stark, University of California at Irvine

Freddy Frischknecht, Heidelberg University

Wednesday, 28 May 2014 at 15:00 in the Large Operon, EMBL Heidelberg

Freddy Frischknecht, Heidelberg University

Why have we not been able to eradicate Malaria?


Infectious diseases have been a major shaping force of human history frequently determining the rise and fall of empires. Among these diseases malaria is still with us today causing well over 200 million infections each year, mostly in the tropics. Malaria is caused by several parasite species from the genus Plasmodium, evolutionary ancient organisms with a curious and unique cellular biology. Treatment and prophylactic measures against malaria exist that can cure and prevent malaria but no vaccine is available. Unlike smallpox, which has been eradicated in the 1970s, malaria eradication has only succeeded in resource-rich countries. This talk will give an overview of the disease-relevant biology concerning the malaria parasite. I will further give examples about other infectious diseases that have been or are on the verge of being eradicated and will reflect on why this is not the case for malaria.


Freddy Frischknecht studied Biochemistry in Berlin and received his PhD in 2000 for work on the interaction of poxviruses with the cytoskeleton of the host cell performed at the EMBL in Heidelberg. He moved to the Pasteur Institute for a postdoc to study the motility of malaria parasites during transmission from mosquito to host. This motility is essential for the parasite to enter from the skin into the blood stream. Since 2005 Freddy's lab studies the molecular and biophysical aspects of parasite motility. To this end he makes us of modern microscopy methods and has received several awards including an ERC starting grant. He has co-organized several conferences including the first EMBL PhD student symposium and has a keen interest in the influence of Science on Society since his time as a grad student at EMBL.