Texas Biomed Staff

Timothy J.C. Anderson

Scientist | Genetics
Phone: 210-258-9596
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Summary

Parasitic diseases still plague broad swathes of the world’s developing countries, reducing childhood survival rates and stunting economic growth. However, genome sequence data for the pathogens involved and funding from organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have generated new hope of controlling or even eliminating these diseases. My laboratory focuses on two of the most important human parasites – malaria, caused by the protozoan Plasmodium falciparum and Schistosomiasis, caused by the blood fluke in the genus Schistosoma.

Malaria infects around 500 million people each year, killing 1.7-2.5 million people.  There is currently no vaccine and resistance to all five classes of antimalarial drugs has now been reported.

My laboratory is using several different strategies to identify genes that underlie resistance and better understand resistance evolution. First, we use genome-wide association methods to systematically search for the genes involved. As the malaria genome is relatively small, we can use whole genome sequence information from populations of parasites to achieve this goal. Second, we are examining the role of copy number variation – already this approach has characterized an important gene involved in drug resistance. Finally, we are selecting resistant parasites in the laboratory and using next generation sequencing methods to identify the genetic changes that have occurred. Our work involves collaborators in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

Schistosomiasis - otherwise known as Bilharzia – is caused by blood flukes (Schistosoma spp.). These parasites infect over 270 million people in Africa, South America and Asia, and utilize snail intermediate hosts. The adult worms live in the blood vessels, but the eggs cause pathology by lodging in the liver or intestine wall, where granulomas form resulting in periportal fibrosis and hepatosplenic disease. Our work with schistosomes uses a different approach to genetic mapping. We have conducted genetic crosses in the laboratory to generate the first genetic map for a human helminth parasite. This allowed us to assign most of the fragmented genome sequence to individual chromosomes. Together with our collaborators at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio we are now exploiting this map and using linkage mapping methods to identify genes that underlie oxamniquine and praziquantel resistance and other biomedically important traits such as host specificity and virulence.  

Lab members: Shalini Nair, Marina McDew-White, Ian Cheeseman, Frederic Chevalier, Winka Le Clec’h

Education

Doctoral Degree: Ecology and Evolution

University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Dissertation: The population structure, epidemiology and evolution of the parasitic helminth Ascaris.

Master's Degree: Medical Parasitology

London Sch. of Hyg. and Tropical Med. London , UK

Bachelor's Degree

Queens College, Oxford Unversity Oxford , UK

Research Focus

Evolution and genetic basis of drug resistance in malaria

Genetic basis of drug resistance, host specificity and virulence in Schistosomes

Genome evolution and population genetics of parasites

Awards and Honors

MERIT award (5R37AI048071-12) from NIAID.  This extends funding for work on drug resistance in malaria by an additional 3-5 years (until 2019-2021).

The Caspari Fellowship, University of Rochester.

Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research.

Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Award, NSF grant BSR-9110393.

Best Student Presentation Award. American Society of Parasitology Meeting,

1992 European Science Foundation Population Biology Fellowship (1999)

Publications

Genetic evaluation of the performance of malaria parasite clearance rate metrics.

Nkhoma, S.C., Stepniewska, K., Nair, S., Phyo, A.P., McGready, R., Nosten, F., Anderson, T.J.
J. Infect. Dis. 208: 346-350, 2013
PubMed ID: 23592863

Long term persistence of clonal malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum lineages in the Colombian Pacific region.

Echeverry, D.F., Nair, S., Osorio, L., Menon, S., Murillo, C., Anderson, T.J.
BMC Genet. 14: 2, 2013
PubMed ID: 23294725

Grants

5R37 AI048071-12       Anderson (PI)       12/01/11 - 11/30/16       NIH/NIAID
Mapping Drug Resistance Genes in Plasmodium falciparum
The major goal of this project is identify genes underlying resistance to Artemisinin in SE Asian Plasmodium falciparum.

Subcontract       White (PI)       02/15/12 - 02/14/15
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Identification of a Laboratory Marker for Artemisinin Resistance
This project involves collection and genetic analysis of a large series of parasite samples from SE Asia and Africa with carefully measured parasite clearance profiles following artemisinin treatment. Role: Co-I.

1R21 AI092235-01       
Mooberry (PI)       07/01/11 - 06/30/14 (one year NCE)
Identification of Novel Plant-derived Anti-malarial Compounds
The major goal is to characterize promising anti-malarial components of plant extracts from Texas. Role: Co-PI

3 R01 AI097576-01       Anderson (PI)       12/01/11 - 11/30/14      
NIH/NIAID
Genetic Analysis of Host Specificity in Schistosoma mansoni
This grant exploits the genetic linkage map and genome sequence of Schistosoma mansoni to identify genome regions that underlie specificity to the intermediate host.

5R21AI096277-01       Anderson (PI)       06/28/12 - 06/27/14      
NIH/NIAID
Efficient Linkage Mapping Methods for Schistosoma mansoni
We apply extreme QTL methods, originally developed for malaria and yeast genetics, for linkage mapping in Schistosoma mansoni.