Gary Ward, Ph.D.


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

Hunt, A., Wagener, J., Kent, R., Carmeille, R., Russell, M., Peddie, C., Collinson, L., Heaslip, A., Ward, G.E., Treeck, M. (2019). Differential requirements of cyclase associated protein (CAP) for actin turnover during the lytic cycle of Toxoplasma gondii. eLife 8: pii:350598. PMCID: PMC6785269

Powell, C.J., Ramaswamy, R., Kelsen, A., Hamelin, D.J., Warshaw, D.M., Bosch, J., Burke, J.E., Ward, G.E., and Boulanger, M.J. (2018). Structural and mechanistic insights into the function of the unconventional class-XIV myosin, MyoA, from Toxoplasma gondii. PNAS 115: E10548-10555. PMCID: PMC6233092

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


All Ward publications

Gary Ward smiling

Contact Information

Office: 316B Stafford

Phone: 802-656-4868


Ward Lab Website



Lab Team

Kaesi Morelli, Post Doctoral Associate

Frances Male, Post Doctoral Associate

Anne Snyder, Graduate Student

Anne Kelsen, Senior Lab Technician