Alexander Maier

Profile

Biography

Dr Alex Maier’s passion for Molecular Parasitology was ignited during his studies at the University of Tuebingen (Germany) and Southern Colorado (USA). During his doctorate he investigated protein trafficking and membrane proteins of an energy generating organell in Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of the African sleeping sickness. This work was conducted under the supervision of Professor Christine Clayton at the ZMBH (Center for Molecular Biology) in Heidelberg, Germany.

In 2000 he was awarded a Post-doctoral fellowship from the German research council (Deutsche Forschungssgemeinschaft) to join the Walter and Eliza Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), Melbourne. Here he established and headed the WEHI Malaria Functional Genomics Facility from 2002-2008 focussing on the mechanism of how malaria parasites invade red blood cells and the transport and display of malaria molecules on the surface of infected red blood cells.

Dr Maier moved to the Department of Biochemistry at La Trobe University as ARC Australian Research Fellow and lab head in 2008 to investigate red blood cell modifications induced by the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

Dr Alex Maier joined the Division of Biomedical Sciences and Biochemistry at The Australian National University in 2012. His research activites have been recognised by several awards including being a finalist at the Eureka Awards and a Laureate of the Khwarizmi International Award. He is an Alexander-von-Humboldt Fellow and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

Research

Research interests

The research questions we are trying to answer are revolving around "How do malaria parasites survive in the host?", "What is are the mechanisms of sexual differentiation?", and "What special roles do lipids play in the life-cycle progression of the malaria parasite?". Hence the Maier lab focussed on the identification of molecules involved in malaria pathogenesis and transmission. In order to elucidate the functions of these molecules we use biochemical, molecular and cell biological techniques. The long-term goal is not only to identify and develop new intervention strategies against malaria, but also to understand the underlying biological principles.

The Maier lab is also interested in adaptations to the parastic life-style and the impact of parasites more broadly. 

Recent grants

  • ARC Discovery Grant (DP180103212): Maier, A.G., Doerig, C., Tobin A. (2018-2020) - Signalling pathways for sexual differentiation of apicomplexan parasites
  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Council)/ANU: International Research Training Group: Program directors and Spokesperson: Matuschewski, K. and Maier, A.G. (2017-2022) - "Crossing Boundaries: Molecular Interactions in Malaria"

Teaching

  • BIOL2161 Genes: Replication and Expression (Convenor)
  • BIOL3210 Appreciating Parasites: from Molecules to Ecosystems (Convenor)
  • BIOL3142 Parasitology
  • BIOL3208 Biology Research Project (Supervisor)
  • BIOL3174/5 Research Projects, PhB Advanced Study Courses (Supervisor)
  • BIOL8700 Research Proposals (Supervisor)
  • BIOL8702 Advanced Research Techniques (Supervisor)

Publications

Selected publications

  • Alexander G. Maier: “Now I feel like a true parasitologist” - Concept-based training for Early Career Scientists, Veterinary Parasitology 2018; 252: 80-84. 
  • Erick T. Tjhin, Christina Spry, Alan L. Sewell, Annabelle Hoegl, Leanne Barnard, Anna E. Sexton, Vanessa M. Howieson, Alexander G. Maier, Darren J. Creek, Erick Strauss, Rodolfo Marquez, Karine Auclair and Kevin J. Saliba: Mutations in the pantothenate kinase of Plasmodium falciparum confer diverse sensitivity profiles to antiplasmodial pantothenate analogues PLoS Pathogens, 2018;14(4):e10069
  • Meng Zhang, Pierre Faou, Alexander G. Maier,* Melanie Rug*: Plasmodium falciparum export protein PFE60 plays a role in Maurer’s clefts architecture, International Journal for Parasitology 2018; 48: 83-95
  • Phuong N. Tran, Cameron Tate, Melanie C. Ridgway, Kevin J. Saliba, Kiaran Kirk and Alexander G. Maier: Human dihydrofolate reductase influences the sensitivity of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum to ketotifen - a cautionary tale in screening transgenic parasites International Journal for Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance, 2016 6, 179-183
  • Phuong N. Tran, Simon H. J. Brown, Melanie Rug, Melanie C. Ridgway, Todd W. Mitchell and Alexander G. Maier: Changes in lipid composition during sexual development of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum; Malaria Journal, 2016 Feb 6, 15:73
  • Melanie Rug, Marek Cyrklaff, Antti Mikkonen, Leandro Lemgruber, Simone Kuelzer, Cecilia Sanchez, Jennifer Thompson, Eric Hanssen, Matthew O’Neill, Christine Langer, Michael Lanzer, Freddy Frischknecht, Alexander G. Maier and Alan F. Cowman: Export of virulence proteins by malaria-infected erythrocytes involves remodelling of host actin cytoskeleton; Blood, 2014 Nov 27;124(23):3459-68
  • Phuong N. Tran, Simon H. J. Brown, Todd W. Mitchell, Kai Matuschewski, Paul J. McMillan, Kiaran Kirk, Matthew W. A. Dixon and Alexander G. Maier: A female-gametocyte-specific ABC transporter plays a role in lipid metabolism in the malaria parasite Nature Communications, 2014 Sep 8;5:4773.
  • Alexander G. Maier: The Malariologist’s Molecular Toolbox, In: Jane Carlton, Susan Perkins, Kirk Deitsch eds. Malaria Parasites - Comparative Genomics, Evolution and Molecular Biology (2012). Hethersett, Norwich, UK: Horizon Scientific Press
  • Alexander G. Maier, Brian M. Cooke, Alan F. Cowman and Leann Tilley: Malaria parasite proteins that remodel the host erythrocyte, Nature Reviews Microbiology, 2009 May 7 (5): 341-354
  • Alexander G. Maier, Melanie Rug, Monica Brown, Matthew T. O’Neill, Srabasti Chakravorty, Tadge Szestak, Joanne Chesson, Yang Wu, Katie Hughes, Ross Coppel, Chris Newbold, James Beeson, Alister Craig, Brendan S. Crabb and Alan F. Cowman: Exported Proteins Required for Virulence and Rigidity of Plasmodium falciparum-Infected Human Erythrocytes, Cell, 2008 Jul 11, 134:48-61
  • Alexander G. Maier*, Melanie Rug*, Matthew T. O’Neill, James Beeson, Matthias Marti, John Reeder and Alan F. Cowman: Skeleton Binding Protein 1 functions at the parasitophorous vacuolar membrane to traffic PfEMP1 to the Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocyte surface, Blood 2007 Feb, 109(3): 1289-1297 
  • Manoj T. Duraisingh, Alexander G. Maier, Tony Triglia and Alan F. Cowman: The erythrocyte binding antigen-175 functions in invasion of human erythrocytes by Plasmodium falciparum utilizing sialic acid-dependent and -independent pathways, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100 (8) (2003) 4796-4801
  • Alexander G. Maier, Manoj T. Duraisingh, John C. Reeder, Sheral S. Patel, James W. Kazura, Peter A. Zimmerman and Alan F. Cowman: Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte invasion via glycophorin C and selection for Gerbich-negativity in human populations, Nature Medicine 9 (1) (2003) 87-92.

All publications

Updated:  17 December 2018/Responsible Officer:  Director RSB/Page Contact:  Webmaster RSB