James McGill Professor
T: 514-398-7729 | roger.prichard [at] mcgill.ca (Email) | Parasitology Building P-108
BSc, PhD (New South Wales)
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, such as the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC), and the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis. Drug resistance in veterinary parasites has become a major problem in many parts of the world. A substantial part of our work has also been to better understand the basis of drug resistance in important nematode parasites of livestock and to develop 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 and albendazole resistance selection in the human filarial nematodes, Onchocerca volvulus, Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi.
- The mechanism of action of anthelmintics such as moxidectin, ivermectin and understanding the mechanisms and genetics of drug resistance in the sheep and cattle parasites, Haemonchus contortus, Cooperia oncophora, Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi.
- Functional genomics studies on cellular transport genes and their products; particularly GABA-gated and glutamate-gated chloride channels, ABC transporters such as P-glycoproteins, and tubulins.
- The expression and function of parasitic nematode genes in the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans in combination with transcriptional regulation and modulation of translation with double stranded RNA.
- Understanding the mechanism of action of diethylcarbamazine in lymphatic filaria and determination of how antiparasitic drugs such as ivermectin and albendazole produce prolonged infertility in filarial parasites.
Our laboratory is composed of a very active team of postdoctoral fellows, Ph.D. and M.Sc. students, support staff and visiting scientists. Enquiries from qualified applicants about postdoctoral and Ph.D. training in molecular parasitology/pharmacology are welcome. Applications from international graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with scholarship standing are particularly encouraged. The laboratory is very international with trainees in the current year from Canada, France, Germany, India, Ghana, Kenya, Belgium and UK.
Research in my laboratory is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Fonds de recherche de la nature et des technologies du Québec (FQRNT), the World Health Organization, the pharmaceutical industry and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI). As Principal Investigator for a $12 million grant from (CFI) we have been able to access the latest technologies for the study of functional genomics. Post doctoral fellows and graduate students in my laboratory are funded by fellowships from NSERC, FQRNT, McGill Major fellowships, national governments and industry. Additional support from research funds is available to trainees with fellowships.
- The detection and management of ivermectin resistance in human onchocerciasis
- Development of markers for monitoring macrocyclic lactone resistance to Heartworm preventatives
- Transport mechanisms and ion channels in nematodes
- Gestion de la résistance aux anthelmintiques chez les ruminants \ Coping with Anthelmintic RESistance in ruminants (CARES)
- Gestion intégrée de la résistance et du parasitisme gastro-intestinal chez les ovins sur pâturages
- Genetic fingerprinting of isolates of Dirofilaria immitis
- Molecular detection of drug-resistance associated single nucleotide polymorphs in β-tubulin in human soil transmitted helminths