Prof Kiaran Kirk is Director of the Australian National University’s Research School of Biology. He carried out his PhD in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Sydney (1985-1988). From 1989 he worked at the Oxford University Laboratory of Physiology where he held an Oxford Nuffield Medical Fellowship, the Staines Medical Research Fellowship (Exeter College) and a Lister Institute Senior Research Fellowship.
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He returned to Australia in 1996 as Professor and Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Faculty of Science at the Australian National University, holding this post until taking up his present position in June 2009.
The focus of Kiaran’s research has, for twenty years, been the membrane transport physiology of the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. Early work, focused on the increased membrane permeability of the malaria parasite-infected red blood cell, providing new insights into both the nature of the channels involved and the physiological role that these channels play in facilitating the uptake of a number of key nutrients into the infected cell, and in causing a profound perturbation of the ionic composition of the host cell cytosol.
More recently the work in his group has been on the transporters and channels of the intracellular parasite itself, and the role that these proteins play in the uptake of nutrients, the efflux of metabolites, ion homeostasis, and antimalarial drug resistance. The most recent work from the group has been on the mechanism by which a range of new-generation antimalarials, some of which are in clinical trials, kill the parasite.
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