Research in Dr. Zimmerman's laboratory is focused on understanding the influence of human and parasite genetic polymorphism on infection and pathogenesis of microbial pathogens. This work concentrates on two major intracellular pathogens and their associated diseases, Plasmodium species/malaria, and HIV-1/AIDS and research projects cover a broad range from field-based molecular epidemiological studies to in vitro evaluation of factors responsible for infection. Recent studies have uncovered genetic polymorphism in human receptor molecules that malaria parasites and HIV-1 co-opt to facilitate invasion of human erythrocytes and CD4 cells, respectively. Ongoing studies seek to determine how to interfer with biological mechanisms leading to infection and development of agents to block these processes. Additional studies have developed diagnostic assays that will enable surveillance of the malaria parasite population within individuals and throughout malaria-endemic communities. Understanding the distribution of parasites expressing polymorphic antigen or drug resistance-conferring genes is essential for developing malaria control strategies that may one day reduce the significance of malaria infection in the world.
Papua New Guinea village gathering for participation in malaria molecular epidemiology study.
The garamut is the traditional means for calling village members together for participation in community events.