Martin Boulanger

Canada Research Chair in Molecular Interactions and Structural Biology

Tier 2 - 2017-11-01
Renewed: 2017-04-01
University of Victoria
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council


Research involves

Biophysical approaches to elucidate molecular mechanisms of virulence and to engineer proteins for novel disease diagnostics and therapeutics.

Research relevance

This research will lead to the development of new therapeutics.

Fighting parasite-borne disease

Parasitic infections pose a major threat to global human health. Of these, toxoplasmosis and malaria are particularly concerning because of how widespread they are around the world and their devastating effects.

 The main reason these parasites are so virulent is their ability to take refuge inside a host cell during infection, which makes it difficult for the body’s immune system to find and destroy them. Once they’ve invaded a host cell, clearing the infection is extremely difficult. Eliminating the ability of these parasites to invade host cells in the first place is key to controlling the development of these diseases.

 As Canada Research Chair in Molecular Interactions and Structural Biology, Martin Boulanger is working to understand how these parasites enter a cell. Because, in order to access the protective environment of the host cell, the parasite has to first create a pathway into the membrane. Once this molecular doorway is created, the parasite then needs a sophisticated motor system to propel itself into the cell. The goal of Boulanger’s work is to define the detailed architecture of this invasion process. 

 By identifying the underlying molecular mechanisms that allow invasion, it will be possible to get a better insight into the virulence and transmissibility of these pathogens. This knowledge will help develop targeted treatments to stop them from developing.