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The Australian National University

Martin Lab - Membrane transport proteins of the malaria parasite

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Dr Rowena Martin

Building 134,
Research School of Biology,
The Australian National University,
Acton, ACT 0200
T: 6126197 0051


Rowena Martin carried out her PhD in the School of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology ANU, taking a multidisciplinary approach to understanding membrane transport in the malaria parasite. Her work spans the fields of cell physiology, biochemistry, bioinformatics, and molecular biology. In 2005 she took up a postdoc position at the ANU to pursue work she had initiated during her PhD on drug resistance in the malaria parasite and was awarded the 2007 Early Career Researcher Award of the ARC/NHMRC Research Network for Parasitology for this research. She has received a NHMRC Early Career Biomedical Fellowship (undertaken 2008-2012 at the University of Melbourne's School of Botany and the ANU Research School of Biology) and a NHMRC R.D. Wright Biomedical Fellowship (for 2013-16; to be undertaken at the ANU Research School of Biology). In 2010 she was awarded the inaugural Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Early Career Research, a L’Oréal Australia For Women In Science Fellowship [YouTube], and an ACT Young Tall Poppy Science Award.


Supervisor of Summer Scholars, PhB Advanced Study Courses, and other undergraduate research projects.

Research interests

The malaria parasite is a single-celled microorganism which invades the red blood cells of its host. Malaria remains a major infectious disease in many parts of the world, causing over 200 million clinical cases and between 0.5 and 1.2 million deaths per year. Moreover, malaria imposes horrendous economic burdens upon afflicted countries. An effective vaccine remains elusive and reliance on chemotherapy is under serious threat with the emergence of parasites that are resistant to most, if not all, of the antimalarial drugs available.

We use a combination of biochemistry, chemistry, molecular biology, and bioinformatic techniques to study:

  • Membrane transport proteins of the malaria parasite, with an emphasis on those involved in drug resistance
  • Mechanisms of drug resistance and drug action in the malaria parasite
  • Design of novel antimalarial drugs

Current projects

Drug resistance in the human malaria parasite

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Design and evaluation of novel antimalarial drugs

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Identification and characterisation of membrane transport proteins

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Student research opportunities

Membrane transport proteins of the malaria parasite and their roles in conferring drug resistance

Enquiries from prospective students are welcome.        Show more detail...

Lab members

  • Eileen Baker (Research Assistant)
  • Rosa Marchetti (PhD student)
  • Rowena Martin (Lab Leader)
  • Katriana Milne (PhB Student)
  • Megan Nash (Research Assistant)
  • Sashika Richards (PhD student)
  • Sarah Shafik (PhD student)
  • Robert Summers (PhD student)

» Go to lab directory

Former Lab Members

Lab awards and achievements

Rowena Martin

Rosa Marchetti
(PhD student)
  • ASP & ARC/NHMRC Parasitology Network Researcher Exchange, Training and Travel Award (2010)

Simon Cobbold
(PhD student)
  • ASP & ARC/NHMRC Research Network for Parasitology Student Poster Prize (2007)

Robert Summers
(PhD student)
  • ANU University Medal in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2008)
  • ASP & ARC/NHMRC Research Network for Parasitology Student Poster Prize (2008)

Tegan Dolstra
(MPhil student)
  • Best poster prize at the ASMR New Investigator's Forum (2011)
  • ASP Student Prize for Best Poster at the XIIth International Congress of Parasitology (2010)
  • Second prize in the ANU ResearchFest Research Note competition (2010)

Print and web media


  • Understanding how to combat drug resistance. Australia's Nobel Laureates, Adventures in Innovation (2nd edition); page 148




  • Malaria Discovery. ‘News Scan’ article by The Sydney Morning Herald.
  • Malaria's taste for salt. Danielle Cronin, The Canberra Times.


All publications

Click here to see a full list of publications on the ISI website...

Recent grants

  • NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (R.D. Wright Biomedical) 1053082: R.E. Martin. 2013-2016 funding ($397,724) for the project ‘Understanding how to combat drug resistance in the malaria parasite: Examination of two proteins that are key to the parasite’s ability to evade the toxic effects of antimalarial drugs’.  Commenced in 2013.
  • NHMRC Small Equipment Grant: R.E. Martin, S. Bröer, and K. Kirk. 2011 funding ($31,241) for a Multichannel Systems "Roboinject Robot".
  • NHMRC Project Grant 1007035: R.E. Martin. 2011-2013 funding ($467,373) for the project ‘Interactions between the malaria parasite’s chloroquine resistance transporter and antimalarial drugs’.
  • L’Oréal Australia For Women In Science Fellowship: R.E. Martin. 2010-2011 funding ($20,000) for the project ‘What is the normal physiological role of the malaria parasite’s chloroquine resistance transporter?’.
  • NHMRC Project Grant 471472: R.E. Martin. 2008-2010 funding ($384,375) for the project ‘Characterization of the chloroquine resistance transporter of the malaria parasite’.
  • NHMRC Early Career Biomedical Fellowship 520320: R.E. Martin. 2009-2012 funding ($285,000) for the project ‘Trafficking of the malaria parasite's chloroquine resistance transporter’. Awarded in 2007.



Summers RL1, Dave A1, Dolstra TJ, Bellanca S, Marchetti RV, Nash MN, Richards SN, Goh V, Schenk RL, Stein WD, Kirk K, Sanchez CP, Lanzer M2, and Martin RE2. (2014 ) Diverse mutational pathways converge on saturable chloroquine transport via the malaria parasite’s chloroquine resistance transporter. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1322965111  [1, 2: Equal contributions] [Abstract]

Deane KJ1, Summers RL1, Lehane AM, Martin RE2, and Barrow RA2. (2014) Chlorpheniramine analogues reverse chloroquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum by inhibiting PfCRT. ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, DOI: 10.1021/ml5000228  [1, 2: Equal contributions]  [Abstract]

Hrycyna CA1, Summers RL1, Lehane AM1, Pires MM, Namanja H, Bohn K, Kuriakose J, Ferdig M, Henrich PP, Fidock DA, Kirk K, Chmielewski J2, and Martin RE2. (2013) Quinine Dimers Are Potent Inhibitors of the Plasmodium falciparum Chloroquine Resistance Transporter and Are Active against Quinoline-Resistant P. falciparumACS Chemical Biology, DOI: 10.1021/cb4008953.  [1, 2: Equal contributions]   [Abstract]

Gemma S, Camodeca C, Brindisi M, Brogi S, Kukreja G, Kunjir S, Gabellieri E, Lucantoni L, Habluetzel A, Taramelli D, Basilico N, Gualdani R, Tadini-Buoninsegni F, Bartolommei G, Moncelli MR, Martin RE, Summers RL, Lamponi S, Savini L, Fiorini I, Valoti M, Novellino E, Campiani G, and Butini S. (2012) Mimicking the Intramolecular Hydrogen Bond: Synthesis, Biological Evaluation, and Molecular Modeling of Benzoxazines and Quinazolines as Potential Antimalarial Agents. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 55, 10387-10404.  [Abstract]

Gemma S, Camodeca C, Sanna Coccone S, Joshi BP, Bernetti M, Moretti V, Brogi S, Bonache MC, Savini L, Taramelli D, Basilico N, Parapini S, Rottmann M, Brun R, Lamponi S, Caccia S, Guiso G, Summers RL,
Martin RE, Saponara S, Gorelli B, Novellino E, Campiani G, and Butini S. (2012) Optimization of 4-Aminoquinoline/Clotrimazole-Based Hybrid Antimalarials: Further Structure-Activity Relationships, in vivo Studies, and Preliminary Toxicity Profiling. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 55, 6948-67.  [Abstract].

Martin RE
, Butterworth A, Gardiner D, Kirk K, and Skinner-Adams TS. (2012) Saquinavir inhibits the malaria parasite's chloroquine resistance transporter.  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 56, 2283-9.  [Abstract]

Summers RL, Nash MN, and Martin RE. (2012) Know your enemy: Understanding the role of PfCRT in drug resistance could lead to new antimalarial tactics. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 69, 1967-95.  [Abstract]

Zishiri VK, Joshi MC, Hunter R, Chibale K, Smith PJ, Summers RL, Martin RE, and Egan TJ.  (2011) Quinoline Antimalarials Containing a Dibemethin Group are Active against Chloroquine Resistant Plasmodium falciparum and Inhibit Chloroquine Transport via the P. falciparum Chloroquine-Resistance Transporter (PfCRT).  Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 54, 6956–6968.  [Abstract]

Zishiri VK, Hunter R, Smith PJ, Taylor D, Summers RL, Kirk K, Martin RE, and Egan TJ. (2011) A series of structurally simple chloroquine chemosensitizing dibemethin derivatives that inhibit chloroquine transport by PfCRT. European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 46, 1729-42. [Abstract]

Cobbold SA, Martin RE and Kirk K. (2011) Methionine transport in the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum. Int. J. Parasitol. 41, 125-135. [Abstract]

Summers RL and Martin RE. (2010). Functional characteristics of the malaria parasite’s ‘chloroquine resistance transporter’: implications for chemotherapy. Virulence, 1, 304-308. [Full text]

Martin RE, Marchetti RV, Cowan AI, Howitt SM, Bröer S. and Kirk K. (2009) Chloroquine transport via the malaria parasite’s ‘Chloroquine Resistance Transporter’.
Science, 325, 1680-1682. [Full Text]

Martin RE
, Ginsburg H and Kirk K. (2009) Membrane transport proteins of the malaria parasite.
Molecular Microbiology. 74, 519-528. [Abstract]

Henry RI, Martin RE, Howitt SM and Kirk K. (2007) Localisation of a candidate anion transporter to the surface of the malaria parasite. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Comm. 363, 288-291. [Abstract]

Martin RE and Kirk K. (2007) Transport of the essential nutrient isoleucine in human erythrocytes infected with the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Blood, 109, 2217-2224. [Abstract]

1Saliba KJ, 1Martin RE, Bröer A, Henry RI, McCarthy CS, Downie MJ, Allen RJW, Mullin KA, McFadden GI, 2Bröer S and 2Kirk K. (2006) Sodium-dependent uptake of inorganic phosphate by the intracellular malaria parasite. Nature 443, 582-585. [1, 2: Equal contributions] [Abstract]

Bray PG, 1Martin RE, Tilley L, Ward SA, Kirk K. and Fidock DA (2005) Defining the role of PfCRT in P. falciparum chloroquine resistance. Molecular Microbiology, 56, 323-333. [1: Joint first authors] [Abstract]

Kirk K, Martin RE, Bröer S, Howitt SM and Saliba KJ. (2005) Plasmodium Permeomics: Membrane transport proteins in the malaria parasite. Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology: Malaria (S. Krishna and D. Sullivan, eds), 295, 325-356. [Abstract]

Martin RE, Henry RI, Abbey JL, Clements JD, and Kirk K. (2005) The 'permeome' of the malaria parasite: an overview of the membrane transport proteins of Plasmodium falciparum. Genome Biology, 6, R26. [Full text]

Martin RE and Kirk K. (2004) The malaria parasite's chloroquine resistance transporter is a member of the drug/metabolite transporter superfamily. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 21: 1938-1949. [Abstract]

Clements JD and Martin RE (2002) Identification of novel membrane proteins by searching for patterns in hydropathy profiles.
European Journal of Biochemistry, 269: 2101-07. [Abstract]

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Updated:  21 December 2010/Responsible Officer:  Director RSB /Page Contact:  RSB Webmaster