Kasturi Haldar, the Julius Nieuwland Professor of Biology and Parsons-Quinn Director for the Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases at the University of Notre Dame is an authority on the mechanisms by which human malaria parasites remodel their host cells. Her laboratory pioneered the application of modern cell biological tools to studying malarial infection of the erythrocyte. They identified a novel transport signal that enables parasite protein to access the host erythrocyte and thus defined secretome of several hundred parasite effectors involved in virulence and structural remodeling of the host. Other major achievements include the identification of the pathway of parasite protein export to the erythrocyte and demonstration that the host targeting signal of malaria parasites is shared by the Irish potato famine pathogen Phytophthora infestans.
The Haldar lab also identified novel malarial Golgi dynamics that underlie a lipid rich, nutrient import pathway in infected erythrocytes and enable transport of cholesterol-rich host 'raft' complexes, essential nutrient solutes and lipids to the malarial vacuole. They have further established that the sterol biosynthetic pathway and cholesterol are important to intracellular infection by Salmonella.
In addition, Haldar and her colleagues have shown that adrenergic signaling is an active process in erythrocyte and required for malaria invasion and growth. They have established erythrocyte signaling pathways can be targets for malarial infection and may be important for treatment of malaria.
Grant McFadden is currently a Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at the University of Florida, College of Medicine. For the past 30 years, his lab has been investigating how viruses, particularly poxviruses, evade the immune system.
The McFadden lab currently studies poxvirus host range genes that are critical determinants of cellular tropism and also to investigate the inhibition of cellular inflammasomes and NFkB signaling by poxviruses. His lab has pioneered the field of viral immunomodulation, and is credited with the discovery of a wide variety of viral inhibitors of the immune system. These include virus-encoded modulators of extracellular pathways, cell surface molecules, and intracellular pathways. McFadden co-coined the term “anti-immunology” to describe this growing field of research. McFadden is a member of the WHO research oversight Committee on Variola Virus research and is often consulted internationally about issues related to bioterrorism and biosecurity. McFadden is a co-founder of Viron Therapeutics, Inc. to develop the use of viral proteins for therapeutic purposes against systemic inflammatory diseases.
Before becoming joint Editor-in-Chief for PLOS Pathogens in 2013, McFadden served as the Deputy Editor-in-Chief starting in 2007. He is also a senior Editor for Journal of Virology, and he serves on the Editorial Boards of a variety of other scholarly journals in the area of virology and immunology.