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“How do Leishmania mexicana parasites manipulate the host immune response to maintain persistent infection?”
Professor James Alexander
Emeritus Professor, Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Science, University of Strathclyde Glasgow, Scotland, U.K
[Host: Prof Frank Brombacher]
Professor James Alexander has more than 40 years’ experience, and well over 150 refereed research papers with an ISI H-index of 54, in the general area of Infection and Immunity, but with particular emphasis on intracellular pathogens, such as Leishmania, and Toxoplasma gondii. His PhD is from the University of Glasgow, and his research has also involved periods at the National Institute for Medical Research and Imperial College in London, as well as the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He was Chair of the Department of Immunology at the University of Strathclyde from 1999-2005 over which time this department held the highest 5* rating in the UK Research Assessment Exercise. His research has focussed not only on the immunological mechanisms that result in curing and non-curing infectious disease, but also in developing appropriate vaccine strategies, new adjuvants, and vaccine delivery systems. With regard to specific key achievements on Leishmania related research he was the 1st to demonstrate in 1975, that the amastigote form of the parasite resided in the host-cell phagolysosome. While his later research on this parasite has demonstrated a major disease promoting role for the Th2 cytokines, IL-4/IL-13, during non-healing American cutaneous infection caused by L. mexicana, in collaboration with Professor Frank Brombacher, UCT, a paradigm shifting, therapeutic role for IL-4/IL-13 during visceral infection with L. donovani has been established. Using parasite mutants of L. mexicana, major parasite virulence factors associated with this parasite’s persistence have been identified: their multifactorial modes of action in allowing the parasite to evade/ avoid/circumvent the host protective immune response continues to be the subject of investigation.