Professor Christian Doerig
Associate Dean, Biomedical Sciences Cluster
School of Health and Biomedical Sciences
Contract research opportunitiesIn the Department of Microbiology, the Leptospira Diagnostic Serology lab provides a diagnostic and specialist consulting service for human leptospirosis.
Other opportunitiesThe department's commercial services unit, Micromon, offers a range of DNA, RNA and Microbial technology services to the broader research community. Micromon has also established nation-wide recognition for its recombinant DNA techniques training course. The Leptospira Diagnostic …
Research ActivitiesChristian Doerig has diverse research interests. After leaving the world of viruses behind in the ‘90s for the then neglected field of malaria research, he has pioneered the study of protein phosphorylation in Plasmodium falciparum, the most virulent malarial parasite, which kills one million people each year predominantly in developing countries.
Christian studies the molecular mechanisms that control the deadly asexual replication and sexual differentiation of malarial parasites in human blood. He is interested in a family of enzymes called protein kinases, which regulate cellular growth and proliferation by modifying other proteins in a process called phosphorylation.
“Together with our international collaborators, we have identified 36 kinases that are crucial for the parasite to proliferate in humans, and shown for the first time that tyrosine phosphorylation occurs in the parasite on regulatory sites of kinases,” he says. Currently, Christian is working with pharmacologists and structural biologists to develop specific inhibitors of these important malarial enzymes. “As the malaria parasite quickly develops drug resistance, we need a constant pipeline of new antimalarials with different modes of action,” Christian says. “Kinase inhibitors represent one approach.”
Aside from his malaria research, Christian has recently obtained joint funding with Associate Professor Hans Netter, a virologist at the Department of Microbiology, to study the involvement of human kinases during infection with Hepatitis C virus, thereby re-connecting with his earlier interest in viruses. His lab has developed a programme based on antibody microarrays to assess the host cell response to intracellular pathogens, with studies published on HCV (Nature Communications 2017) and Wolbachia, an endosymbiont of insects that blocks arbovirus replication (Cell Reports 2019); the approach is presented in a paper in Science Signaling (2019).
In addition to his own research activities, Christian Associate Dean for the Biomedical Sciences Cluster at RMIT School of Health and Biomedical Sciences.
Techniques/ExpertiseProtein kinase biochemistry
Signal transduction methods
Cell cycle control techniques
CollaborationsFranco-Swiss INSERM-EPFL laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland
Wellcome Trust Centre for Molecular Parasitology, University of Glasgow, Scotland
Andrew Wilks, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Genetically Modified OrganismsPlasmodium falciparum