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Visualizing malaria transmission

Malaria is transmitted during the blood meal of the Anopheles mosquito, when Plasmodium sporozoites are injected into the skin. These sporozoites are highly motile using a unique type of motility system allowing them to move within the tissue in order to reach the blood circulation. This motility system is also important for the invasion of a variety of cell types at different stages of the Plasmodium life cycle thus being essential for the successful progression of the infectious cycle of the malaria parasite.



Four projects deal with different aspects of sporozoite biology. One project investigates Lyme disease borrelia.


Project 1: Deletion and modification of genes involved in parasite gliding motility


Project 2: Investigating the biophysical basis of gliding by measuring the forces that sporozoites generate on flexible and nano-patterned substrates as well as with laser traps


Project 3: Quantitative in vivo and in vitro imaging of sporozoites and their interaction with cells and substrates


Project 4: Investigation of sporozoite formation in 3D at high resolution using cryo-electron tomography, correlative light and electron microscopy


Project 5: Investigation of Lyme disease Borrelia



Advanced training:

Courses on Microscopy and imaging host pathogen interactions (e.g.: EMBO World Cup course [in South Africa], WACCBIP Cell Biology course [Legon, Ghana], Cell Biology of Malaria course [Bahir Dar, Ethiopia], Biology of Parasitism course [Woods Hole, USA])


Science and Society:

Heidelberg Forum on Biosciences and Society.




For previous and current funding we gratefully acknowledge the following institutions:


Opens external link in new windowAlexander von Humboldt foundation (postdoc fellowship to N. Dahan and C. Matos),


Opens external link in new windowChica and Heinz Schaller Foundation (group leader fellowship for F. Frischknecht),


Opens external link in new windowEuropean Molecular Biology Organization,


Opens external link in new windowEU Network of Excellence EVIMalaR (PhD fellowship to K. Bane),


Opens external link in new windowEU-FP7 (InterMalTraining – jont PhD student with Maria Mota),


Opens external link in new windowEuropean Research Council (ERC starting grant),


Opens external link in new windowGerman Academic Exchange Service (DAAD, PhD fellowships for H. Kumar and M. Muthinja),


Opens external link in new windowGerman Ministry of Education and Science (BMBF through Biofuture and NGFN programs),


Opens external link in new windowGerman Research Foundation (DFG through SFB 544, SFB 1129, SPP 1128, SPP 1464, Coronin),


Opens external link in new windowHartmut Hoffmann-Berling International Graduate School of Molecular and Cellular Biology Heidelberg (PhD fellowship to B. Spreng),


Opens external link in new windowHuman Frontier Science Program Organization (joint grants with Dave Kovar, Anne Houdusse and Jake Baum),


Opens external link in new windowKlaus-Georg-und-Sigrid-Hengstberger Stiftung,


Opens external link in new windowMarie Curie Action of the EU (postdoc fellowship for S. Egarter),


Opens external link in new windowUniversity of Heidelberg Excellence Cluster CellNetworks (postdoc fellowships for L. Lemgruber and R. Douglas),


Opens external link in new windowUniversity of Heidelberg Frontier Program (joint grants with Ulrich Schwarz, Christian Boehm, Michael Boutros, Carmen Ruiz de Almodovar and Rebekka Wade),


Opens external link in new windowUniversity of Heidelberg Medical School,





Collaborators -past and present

Baumeister (Martinsried), Martin Baumgartner  (Zurich), Martin Beck (EMBL), Oliver Billker (Cambridge), Jürgen Bosch (Baltimore), Michael Boutros (Heidelberg), Marek Cyrklaff (Heidelberg), Ulrike Engel (Heidelberg), Oliver Fackler (Heidelberg), Volker Heussler (Bern), Anne Houdusse (Paris), David Kovar (Chicago), Misha Kudryashev (Frankfurt), Inari Kursula (Bergen and Oulu), Sebastian Lourido (MIT), Julia Mahamid (EMBL), Gunnar Mair (Ames), Matthias Marti (Glasgow), Kai Matuschewski (Berlin), Alex Mayer (Canberra), Markus Meissner (Glasgow), Maria Mota (Lisboa), Stuart Ralph (Melbourne), Melanie Rug (Canberra), Carmen Ruiz de Almodòvar (Heidelberg), Ulrich Schwarz (Heidelberg), Inga Sidem Kiamos (Heraklion), Photini Sinnis (Baltimore), Dominique Soldati-Favre (Geneva), Joachim Spatz (Stuttgart), Rebecca Wade (Heidelberg), Reinhard Wallich (Heidelberg), Andy Waters (Glasgow)



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Ruperto Carola (2016)

Article by Friedrich Frischknecht on the subject "New approaches in the fight against malaria" in Heidelberg University's research magazine RUPERTO CAROLA (issue 9, 2016)