Gary Ward, Ph.D.

Professor

Training & Education

Dr. Ward received his Ph.D. in 1985 from The University of California, San Diego, where he studied the cell biology of fertilization with Dr. Victor Vacquier. He did his postdoctoral training with Dr. Marc Kirschner at The University of California, San Francisco, studying the biochemistry of cell cycle control. He then spent 6 years as a Senior Staff Fellow in the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases at the NIH,  working on the parasites that cause malaria and toxoplasmosis, before joining the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in 1996.

Research Interests

Toxoplasma gondii is one of the most widespread parasites on the planet, capable of infecting any warm-blooded animal, including humans. Approximately one fifth of Americans carry T. gondii in their muscle and brain tissue. Infections can be life threatening in the unborn fetus or in people whose immune systems have become compromised as a result of immunosuppressive therapy or HIV infection. The parasite uses sophisticated cell biological tricks to invade the host cell and, once inside, to redirect the energy and efforts of the host cell to its own advantage. Our lab studies the mechanisms by which T. gondii moves through tissues and gains entry into the cells of its hosts. We hope that a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying parasite motility and host cell invasion will lead to the development of new approaches to treating the devastating diseases caused by T. gondii and related parasites.

Parasite invading a fibroblast (transmisison electron microscopy).

Parasite invading a fibroblast (transmisison electron microscopy).

Featured Publications

Powell C.J., Jenkins M.L., Parker M.L., Ramaswamy R., Kelsen A., Warshaw D.M., Ward G.E., Burke J.E., Boulanger M.J. (2017). Dissecting the molecular assembly of the Toxoplasma gondii MyoA motility complex. J Biol Chem 292:19469-19477. PMCID: PMC5702683.

Whitelaw, J.A., Latorre-Barragan, F., Gras, S., Pall, G.S., Leung, J.M., Heaslip., A., Egarter, S., Andenmatten, N., Nelson, S.R., Warshaw, D.M, Ward, G.E. and Meissner, M. (2017). Surface attachment, promoted by the actomyosin system of Toxoplasma gondii is important for efficient gliding motility and invasion. BMC Biology 15: 1-23. PMCID: PMC5242020

Krishnamurthy, S.K., Deng, B., del Rio, R., Buchholz, K.R., Treck, M., Urban, S., Boothroyd, J., Lam, Y.-W., Ward., G.E. (2016). Not a simple tether: Binding of Toxoplasma gondii AMA1 to RON2 during invasion protects AMA1 from rhomboid-mediated cleavage and leads to dephosphorylation of its cytosolic tail. mBio 13: e00754-16. PMCID: PMC5021801

Leung, J.M., Tran, F, Pathak, R.B., Poupart, S., Heaslip, A.T., Ballif, B.A., Westwood, N.J.* and Ward, G.E.*  (2014) Identification of T. gondii Myosin Light Chain-1 as a Direct Target of TachypleginA-2, a Small-Molecule Inhibitor of Parasite Motility and Invasion. PLOS ONE 9: e98056. PMCID: PMC4043638

Parussini, F.P., Tang, Q., Moin, S.M., Mital, J.M., Urban, S.*, and Ward, G.E.* (2012) 
Intramembrane proteolysis of Toxoplasma Apical Membrane Antigen 1 facilitates host cell invasion but is dispensable for replication. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109: 7463-8. PMCID: PMC3358886.

 

All Ward publications

Gary Ward, PhD
 

Contact Information

Office: 316B Stafford

Phone: 802-656-4868

Email

Ward Lab Website

 

Lab Team

Robyn Kent, Postdoctoral Fellow
Rachel Stadler, PhD student
Frances Male, PhD student
Anne Kelsen, Senior Technician
Eric Flynn, Undergraduate student