Research aimed at developing drugs that stop malaria parasites from spreading throughout the body has seen Dr Jake Baum, from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, named a Young Tall Poppy by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science.
Dr Baum, a senior postdoctoral fellow in the institute's Infection and Immunity division, is investigating the molecular mechanisms that control the malaria parasite's movement.
"Malaria parasites use a unique actin-myosin motor that enables them to literally glide across cell surfaces and enter host cells," Dr Baum said. "The components of this gliding motor are well established yet we still know almost nothing about how motility is regulated."
Dr Baum hopes to identify the critical component that regulates the parasite's movement so that drugs can be developed that stop the parasite from spreading from the body's liver cells into the bloodstream.
"Through the development of drugs that prevent the malaria parasite's movement we hope to contain its spread and therefore prevent or treat malaria disease."
Malaria is one of the world's most prevalent diseases. It causes hundreds of millions of infections each year and is the greatest cause of infant death in large parts of Africa and South East Asia, killing a child every 30 seconds.
Dr Baum was one of 11 Young Tall Poppy winners from Victoria and Tasmania. He was presented with his award on 17 September by the Hon Robyn Parker, Member of the Legislative Council for New South Wales.
The Tall Poppy Campaign was created by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science to recognise and celebrate Australian scientific and intellectual excellence and to encourage younger Australians to follow in the footsteps of outstanding achievers.
Previous Tall Poppy award winners from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have been Dr Kylie Mason, Dr Ben Croker, Dr Benjamin Kile and Professors Brendan Crabb, Simon Foote
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Walter and Eliza Hall Institute