Alister Craig graduated in Genetics from Edinburgh University in 1981 and obtained his PhD in Molecular Biology from Leicester University in 1984. He spent the next two years as an EMBO Fellow at EMBL in Heidelberg followed by two years as an ICRF Fellow in London working on developing techniques for genome analysis. He subsequently worked for ten years at the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford on malaria before joining the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in 1999.
One aspect of malaria biology that has been associated with severity of disease has been the ability of erythrocytes infected with Plasmodium falciparum to adhere to the endothelial cells lining the small blood vessels (and also within the placenta). Several endothelial receptors are able to mediate this binding, but studies on patient isolates have identified a subset of these are being important in the field. Our research has focussed on one of the major receptors, intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) and uses live endothelium as a model of the interactions taking place in vivo, as recent studies have indicated that disease severity may be linked to the ability of parasites to adhere to multiple receptors. The group's work has extended into an analysis of post-adhesive effects on both the parasite and the host endothelium.
As well as wishing to understand the molecular processes underpinning sequestration in malaria, we are also carrying out work on clinical correlation of specific types of adhesion with severe disease and the differential distribution of variant populations of parasites in the body due to receptor tropism. Our main goal is an understanding of the pathology of adhesion-based pathology in malaria and, thereby, the development of novel anti-disease therapeutics.
Other relevant expertise
Former member of the Wellcome Trust Funding Panel/ Expert Review Group (Pathogen Biology and Disease Transmission) and Scientific Advisory Committee for the European Vaccine Initiative.