James McGill Professor
T: 514-398-7729 | roger.prichard [at] mcgill.ca (Email) | Parasitology Building P-108
BSc, PhD (New South Wales)
Docteur honoris causa (Paul Sabatier)
PhD, University of NSW, Australia. Postdoctoral fellow, University College, Wales (UCW), UK. Currently, James McGill Professor of Parasitology
Honours and Awards:
Docteur Honoris causa, Université Paul Sabatier, France; Honorary Life Member, World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology (WAAVP); WAAVP/Bayer Award for Excellence in Teaching and Service; Fellow, Australian Society for Parasitology; Honorary Diplomate, European Veterinary Parasitology College; WAAVP/Pfizer Award for Excellence in Research; Distinguished Veterinary Parasitologist, American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists; Fellow, Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, UK; Wardle Medal, Canadian Society Zoologists; Canadian Pacific Chair of Biotechnology, McGill; Roy C. Anderson Memorial Lecturer, University of Guelph; Norman R. Stoll Memorial Lecturer, New Jersey Society for Parasitology, Princeton, N.J.; Roche Foundation Fellow, University of Zurich, Switzerland; R.W. Griffiths Postdoctoral Fellow, UCW
Member, Helminth Disease Group, World Health Organization (WHO); Helminth Drug Initiative Task Force, WHO; Advisory Committee, Children without Worms; Expert Advisor, Soil Transmitted Helminth, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Expert Advisory Committee, Onchocerciasis Control Programme, WHO; President, WAAVP; President, AAVP; Vice-President (Research), McGill; Dean Graduate Studies, McGill; Director, Institute of Parasitology, McGill.
Research on optimizing antiparasitic pharmaceuticals, drug resistance.
300 publications; 7 patents; Google Scholar h index 75.
Awards and Recognitions
2010 – 2017: James McGill Professor
Reducing diseases caused by parasites in humans and animals in an age of increasing drug resistance in parasites
Research in my laboratory focuses on the molecular genetics and mechanisms of resistance to antiparasitic drugs, the mechanisms of action of these pharmaceuticals and parasite control. The work encompasses laboratory studies of parasite genomics, functional genomics and pharmacogenomics, proteomics and cellular physiology, combined with field aspects in developing countries to develop and deploy molecular tools to monitor the development of drug resistance in global parasitic disease control and elimination programs. Current research is focussed on possible development of benzimidazole (Albendazole, mebendazole) resistance in soil transmitted helminths such as hookworms, whipworms and large roundworms. Drug resistance in veterinary parasites has become a major problem in many parts of the world. Macrocyclic lactone resistance (e.g., to ivermectin) in the canine heartworm, Dirofilaria immitis, is of great interest because of concerns for animal welfare in companion animals and also as a model for human filarial infections. We are also interested in drug resistance in important nematode parasites of livestock, where resistance already poses a substantial economic challenge. We are developing new tools for monitoring the development of drug resistance. The research involves comparing genetic polymorphism in drug selected and naive parasite populations, determination of single nucleotide polymorphs (SNPs), expression of alleles with different observed SNPs, determination of the effects of the SNP on the phenotype of the parasite, analysis of gene promoter sequences and localization of gene expression. Based on these analyses, SNP markers can be used to monitor parasite populations in the field for drug selection changes in responsiveness to treatment. From these analyses models of drug resistance development in parasitic nematodes are being developed. Together with appointments in the Institute of Parasitology, Departments of Medicine, Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and in Animal Science at McGill University, we have extensive international collaborations with laboratories involved in human and animal parasitic disease control in developed and developing countries.
My research is in the area of molecular pharmacology of infectious diseases. Current research projects in my laboratory include:
- The molecular genetics of ivermectin (macrocyclic lactones) and resistance selection in the filarial parasites, Dirofilaria immitis and Brugia malayi.
- Development of molecular markers for albendazole and mebendazole (benzimidazoles) in human soil transmitted helminths.
- The mechanism of action of anthelmintics such as moxidectin, ivermectin in sheep and cattle parasites.
- The role of P-glycoproteins efflux pumps in drug resistance in parasites.
- Regulation of development in filarial parasites, such as D. immitis and B. malayi.
- The expression and function of parasitic nematode genes in the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.
Our laboratory is composed of a team of postdoctoral fellows, Ph.D. and M.Sc. students, support staff and visiting scientists. Applications from international graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with scholarship standing are encouraged. The laboratory is very international with trainees from various countries.
Research is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, National Center for Veterinary Parasitology, the pharmaceutical industry and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI).
- Development of markers for monitoring macrocyclic lactone resistance to Heartworm preventatives, and understanding the mechanism of resistance in Heartworm parasites
- Transport mechanisms drug resistance in nematodes
- Molecular detection of drug-resistance associated single nucleotide polymorphs in β-tubulin in human soil transmitted helminths