Dr. Nisha Philip

Lecturer in Infection

  • Institute of Immunology and Infection Research

Contact details



Ashworth Laboratories 2, Rm3.19

Post code


Ph.D. , Dept. of Pharmacology, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

M.S. , Dept. of Biology, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX, USA

M.Sc. , Dept. of Biosciences and Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, India

B.Sc. , Dept. of Biochemistry, Delhi University, New Delhi, India

Research summary

Malaria threatens around 400 million people globally and results in over 0.5 million deaths annually, thereby continuing to be a major public health problem. In the absence of an effective vaccine, emerging drug resistant strains are of grave concern and consequently, there is an urgent need to develop new therapeutics. To tackle this problem, we use the rodent malaria parasite, Plasmodium berghei, to understand function of key players crucial to parasite development and transmission. Two areas of research focus include:


Organisation of signaling pathways during malaria parasite infection and transmission

Protein phosphorylation plays a central role in numerous signalling pathways critical to cell proliferation and development. In Plasmodium, the causal agent of malaria, protein phosphorylation is critical for its development and virulence, but the associated regulatory signalling networks are poorly understood.

Using state of the art proteomic, chemical genetic and bioinformatics tools we intend to systematically define functional signaling networks regulated by phosphorylation modulating enzymes during two key stages of the malaria parasite life cycle: host cell infection and host-to-mosquito transmission.


RNA binding proteins mediated regulation of Plasmodium development

The malaria parasite has a complex life cycle requiring both a mammalian host and mosquito vector. Almost 200 RNA binding proteins (RBPs) are expressed at distinct stages of Plasmodium lifecyle where they are implicated in both parasite development, and host-to-vector and vector-to-host transitions. We recently identified a family of RBPs which play crucial roles in parasite growth in the host erythrocyte and development of the mosquito infective form. We aim to understand how these RBPs are regulated and what RNA molecules they regulate.


Selected Publications

  • Kent RS, Modrzynska KM, Cameron R, Nisha Philip, Billker O, Waters AP (2018). Inducible developmental reprogramming redefines commitment to sexual development by malaria parasites. Nature Microbiology. Sept 03
  • Brancucci NMB, Gerdt JP, Wang C, De Niz M, Nisha Philip, Adapa SR, Zhang M, Hitz E, Niederwieser I, Boltryk SD, Laffitte MC, Clark MA, Grüring C, Ravel D, Blancke Soares A, Demas A, Bopp S, Rubio-Ruiz B, Conejo-Garcia A, Wirth DF, Gendaszewska-Darmach E, Duraisingh MT, Adams JH, Voss TS, Waters AP, Jiang RHY, Clardy J, Marti M. (2017). Lysophosphatidylcholine Regulates Sexual Stage Differentiation in the Human Malaria Parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Cell, Nov 2. pii: S0092-8674(17)31242-4
  • Srivastava A, Nisha Philip, Hughes KR, Georgiou K, MacRae JI, Barrett MP, Creek DJ, McConville MJ, Waters AP. (2016) Stage-specific changes in Plasmodium metabolism required for differentiation and adaptation to different host and vector environments. Plos Pathogens, 12(12): e1006094
  • Nisha Philip# and Waters AP#. (2015). Conditional degradation of Plasmodium Calcineurin reveals functions in parasite colonization of both host and vector. Cell Host and Microbe, 18(1): 122-131. # Corresponding author
  • Nisha Philip and Waters AP. (2013). Unveiling the Malaria Parasite’s Cloak of Invisibility. Science, 340: 936-37
  • Nisha Philip, Orr R, Waters AP. (2013). Transfection of malaria parasites. Methods in Mol Biol. 923: 99-125
  • Nisha Philip#, Vaikkinen HJ, Tetley L, Waters AP#. (2012). A unique Kelch domain phosphatase in Plasmodium regulates ookinete morphology, motility and invasion. PLoS One, 9:e44617. #Corresponding author
  • LaMonte G*, Nisha Philip*, Reardon J, Lacsina JR, Majoros W, Thornburg CD, Telen MJ, Ohler U, Nicchitta CV, Haystead T, Chi JT. (2012). Translocation of sickle cell erythrocyte microRNAs into Plasmodium falciparum inhibits parasite translation and contributes to malaria resistance. Cell Host and Microbe, 12(2): 187-99. *Co-first authors
  • Orr RY, Nisha Philip, Waters AP. (2012). Improved negative selection protocol for Plasmodium berghei in the rodent malarial model. Malar Journal. 11:103
  • Hughes KR*, Nisha Philip*, Starnes GL*, Taylor S*, Waters AP. (2010). From cradle to grave: RNA biology in malaria parasites. Wiley Interdiscip Rev RNA. 2:287-303. *Co-first author
  • Nisha Philip and Haystead TA. (2007) Characterization of a UBC13 kinase in Plasmodium falciparum. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. May 8;104(19):7845-50