The mission of the Vaughan Lab ultimately is to alleviate the suffering of those affected by the disease malaria, which kills upwards of 400,000 people, mostly young children, every year. We study both the human malaria parasites Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax as well as the rodent malaria models Plasmodium yoelii and Plasmodium berghei.
Experimental Genetic Crosses
Our ability to maintain the complete life cycle of Plasmodium falciparum in a lab setting as well as our ability to create experimental genetic crosses between different parasite strains enables us to ask questions about parasite recombination and acquisition and spread of drug resistance.
Ashley Vaughan, PhD, is a research assistant professor. He received his PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. During his tenure in the Kappe Lab, he showed the importance of the parasite’s fatty acid synthetic pathway for sporozoite and liver stage maturation. He also researches how to elicit the most protective immune response after vaccination with genetically attenuated parasites. Ashley’s collaborations with Sebastian Mikolajczak led to significant advances in the use of human-liver chimeric mouse models in studying malaria. This includes complete liver stage development and the transition to blood stage malaria in the mouse for the human malarias Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. He has also used this mouse model for the creation of experimental Plasmodium falciparum genetic crosses, a significant advance that should aid in our understanding of Plasmodium falciparum drug resistance. Ashley continues to be fascinated by basic parasite pre-erythrocytic biology and uses rodent malaria and parasite transgenesis to understand how the parasite interacts with its vector and host during sporozoite and liver stage development. Outside of the lab, he is a keen hiker, traveler, gardener and scuba diver, pastimes he enjoys with and without his husband, Rafael.