Dr. Pegine Walrad is a Research Lecturer in Molecular Parasitology appointed to the Centre for Immunology and Infection in the Department of Biology in honour of the University of York’s 50th Anniversary. Training originally as a zoologist at Michigan State University and clinical veterinary nurse, Pegine broadened her research interests in pathology and molecular biology during her PhD work on fly and yeast developmental genetics at Stony Brook University. Pegine shifted to molecular parasitology as a Wellcome Trust-funded Post Doctoral researcher to examine developmental regulators in Trypanosomatids at the University of Edinburgh. During this time, she identified and characterised the first trans-regulator of a surface antigen and a novel pathway of mRNA nuclear export in Trypanosoma brucei. Her independent research career in parasitology currently focuses upon regulators of Leishmania differentiation to human-infectious forms. Toward this pursuit her lab has recently identified the mRNA binding and whole cell proteomes of Leishmania mexicana, identified and characterised the RNA binding protein targets of the first methylating enzyme implicated in Leishmania spp. parasite virulence, and quantitatively characterised the distinct swimming dynamics of Leishmania promastigote stages. She has been awarded an MRC New Investigator Research Grant, two joint Newton/MRC UK-Brazil Neglected Infectious Diseases grants and participates in two MRC Global Challenges Research Fund consortiums. She has hosted two FAPESP PhD students, a Science without Borders fellow and currently mentors two PDRAs as well as four Wellcome, BBSRC and Departmentally-funded PhD students. Pegine leads the Human Molecular Parasitology final year module and lectures for the first year Microbiology course at the University of York and has organised and taught invited Parasite Molecular Genetics courses abroad.
Michigan State University
Stony Brook University, NY
University of York
Pegine’s laboratory works on kinetoplastid parasites which cause human disease worldwide; afflicting the poorest of society. The Leishmaniases currently infect 12 million people with 2 million new cases annually. It is the second biggest killer of parasitic diseases and 70% of those infected are under 15yrs old. No vaccine exists, available treatments have toxic side effects and resistance to existing treatments is on the rise.
Research centers on regulators of Leishmania parasite differentiation that enable human leukocyte infection, with emphasis on post-transcriptional control as the primary mode of gene regulation. Leishmania parasites infect distinct host environments and this requires concise and responsive adaptation to survive. Gene regulators and signaling pathways that initiate parasite response to host cells and enable adaptation have yet to be identified and are key to combating the diseases caused by these parasites. Regulatory systems enabling parasite development are characterized using a combination of molecular, biochemical, genetic and bioinformatic techniques, utilising transcriptomic and proteomic approaches to isolate human-infectious stage specific regulators.
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