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Global Parasitology Seminars

Parasitology Seminar Series

Catherine Lavazec, PhD, "Deciphering host-parasite interactions in Plasmodium falciparum transmission"


Title: "Deciphering host-parasite interactions in Plasmodium falciparum transmission”

Catherine Lavazec, PhD Speaker: Catherine Lavazec, PhD
Team Leader
Biology of Plasmodium transmission team
Institut Cochin, Paris, France


Plasmodium falciparum gametocytes, the sexual stages responsible for malaria parasite transmission from humans to mosquitoes, are key targets for malaria elimination. Immature gametocytes develop in the human bone marrow parenchyma, where they accumulate around erythroblastic islands.

At maturation, gametocyte-infected erythrocytes are released into peripheral blood where they are available for uptake by mosquitoes for several weeks. How the gametocytes sequester in the bone marrow microenvironment and how they are released and persist in the blood circulation at maturation remain elusive. We have shown that during their development, gametocytes deeply modify the biomechanical properties of their host cell.

Some of these modifications may play a key role for gametocyte sequestration in the bone marrow, subsequent release in the bloodstream and ability to persist in blood circulation. The cellular mechanisms underlying the regulation of these mechanical properties may be new targets to block malaria parasite transmission. In this context, we discovered that phosphodiesterase inhibitors increase the stiffness and the permeability of infected erythrocytes and may thus trigger their elimination from the circulation.

Bio: Dr. Catherine Lavazec is a Research Director at Institut Cochin (CNRS) in Paris. During her PhD and post-doctoral work at Institut Pasteur in Paris and Cornell University in New York, she contributed to the characterization of several Plasmodium and Anopheles proteins families involved in parasite transmission. In 2013, she joined the Institut Cochin where her research is focused on unique biology underpinning Plasmodium falciparum transmission from human to mosquitoes and the cellular mechanisms driving this process. The Lavazec lab uses experimental approaches combining biophysical and microscopy techniques with cellular biology to decipher the interactions between parasites and bone marrow cells as well as the changes in red blood cell mechanical properties during parasite maturation. The lab has identified parasite proteins and signaling pathways that participate to these processes and has established that these mechanisms may be new targets to block malaria parasite transmission.

Date: Monday, October 11, 2021
Time: 12-1 pm

Location: Hill Pavilion, Room 132
University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine
380 S University Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19104

You can also attend virtually. Virtual Link: Zoom

Questions? Please contact Sue Waddington-Pilder if you have questions (

Date and Time


Susan Waddington-Pilder