Boris Striepen is an Associate Professor in the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases & Department of Cellular Biology at the University of Georgia. His group is interested in the cell and molecular biology of protozoan parasites that cause severe opportunistic infections in AIDS patients. In particular they are studying the cell and molecular biology of apicomplexan parasites.
Apicomplexa harbor a remnant chloroplast that they obtained through secondary endosymbiosis. This organelle is essential for parasite growth and provides several exciting new targets for drug development. Using transgenic parasites and in vivo microscopy the Striepen group is studying the replication of this important organelle during the parasite's intracellular development. Their analyses show that the apicoplast is divided and segregated in association with the poles of the mitotic spindle. Recently they have also identified a novel contractile ring which they believe is required for fission of the organelle during mitosis. Lastly they are interested in the role of specific plastid pathways for the development and pathogenesis of the parasite. Currently they are using a combined genomic and genetic approach to identify key molecules in plastid division, protein import and metabolic function.