Research Interests

Host-pathogen Interactions

Pathogens, in particular malaria parasites, must interact with the host for survival. We aim to uncover and exploit these interactions to prevent disease.

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Neutralizing Antibodies

Antibodies play key roles in protection against infectious disease. We aim to determine the mechanisms of productive antibody neutralization of parasites and bacteria.

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Antigen Engineering

Producing antigens that focus the immune response to protective epitopes is critical for future vaccines. We aim to design and engineer novel antigens that will lead to protection.

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Drug Resistance

Pathogens have acquired various methods to resist available drugs and therapies. We aim to define drug resistance to aid in the arms race against drug resistant pathogens.

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The Tolia Laboratory study the pathogenesis of infectious disease from atom to host-pathogen interaction

We use the tools of structural biology, biochemistry, biophysics, and microbiology to examine proteins and protein complexes associated with pathogenesis.

One major focus is to define the molecular mechanisms required for the pathogenesis of malaria. Malaria affects half the world's population, leads to 300-500 million cases per year, and results in approxiamately 1 million deaths annually. A majority of fatalities are in children under the age of five.

A second major focus is to define the mechanisms of bacterial drug resistance to available antibiotics. Drug resistance has emerged as a major global threat to the control of previously routine infections.

Postdoctoral positions now available

Postdoctoral positions are immediately available to study the structural basis for host-pathogen interactions, structural vaccinology, and the mechanisms of drug resistance.

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Selected Publications

Edwin Chen, Nichole D Salinas, Francis B Ntumngia, John H Adams, , "Structural analysis of the synthetic Duffy Binding Protein (DBP) antigen DEKnull relevant for Plasmodium vivax malaria vaccine design." PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases (2015) Mar 20;9(3):e0003644. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0003644.

Ann M Guggisberg#, Jooyoung Park#, Rachel L Edwards, Megan L Kelly, Dana M Hodge, *, Audrey R Odom*. "A sugar phosphatase regulates the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway in malaria parasites." Nature Communications (2014) 5:4467. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5467
# co-first author, * co-senior author
Media Coverage: WUSTL News

Edwin Chen, May M. Paing, Nichole Salinas, B. Kim Lee Sim, . "Structural and Functional Basis for Inhibition of Erythrocyte Invasion by Antibodies that Target Plasmodium falciparum EBA-175." PLOS Pathogens (2013) 9(5): e1003390. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003390

Joseph D Batchelor, Jacob A Zahm, . "Dimerization of Plasmodium vivax DBP is induced upon receptor binding and drives recognition of DARC." Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (2011) Jul 10;18(8):908-14

Our mission and vision

To uncover fundamental phenomena that drive the pathogenesis of infectious diseases and apply this knowledge to enable the next generation of the drugs, vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.

To address diseases of global importance particularly those that are neglected and that do not receive adequate scientific attention.