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Home > Research > Researchers > Paul Bates
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Current Postgraduate Research Students

Paul Bates supervises 2 postgraduate research students. Some of the students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Professor Paul Bates

Professor

Paul Bates

Furness Building

Lancaster University

Bailrigg

Lancaster LA1 4YG

United Kingdom

Tel: +44 1524 593718

Location:

Research overview

My research expertise is in tropical infectious diseases, in particular medically important parasites and their interactions with insect and mammalian hosts. The main group of parasites we study are Leishmania, causing various forms of the tropical disease leishmaniasis. We maintain a breeding colony of sand flies to study the role of the vector in transmission and apply the tools of biochemistry, cell biology and molecular genetics to dissect the host-parasite relationship. One output of our research is the identification of targets for chemotherapeutic or immunological intervention. Another is the development of model systems for the evaluation of drugs and vaccines.

Current Research

Current projects in my laboratory include:-

  • Investigation of cutaneous leishmaniasis in Ghana (funded by Leverhulme Trust and Royal Society), collaboration with Prof Daniel Boakye, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Accra and project of PhD student Godwin Kwakye-Nuako
  • Characterization and phylogeny of Leishmania from Thailand – collaboration with Dr Narissara Jariyapan, University of Chiang Mai
  • Vector incrimination for Leishmania enriettii in Brazil – collaboration with Prof Vanete Thomaz-Soccol, University of Parana
  • Mechanism of hemidesmosome-like attachment by Leishmania in sand flies, project of PhD student Rowaida Bakri

Research Interests

The leishmaniases are tropical infectious diseases that occur in many parts of the world, including Central and South America, Africa, Southern Europe and Asia. The true scale of the disease is severely under-reported, but estimates of the number of people infected at any one time range from 12 to 20 million, with some 350 million exposed to the risk of infection. The World Health Organisation has targeted leishmaniasis as a priority for research, being one of the “Neglected Tropical Diseases”. Although populations living in the tropics and sub-tropics are at the highest risk of infection, visitors and tourists also occasionally become infected with leishmaniasis. There are three main forms of disease: cutaneous leishmaniasis, mucocutaneous leishmaniasis and visceral leishmaniasis. All are transmitted by the bites of small blood feeding insects called phlebotomine sand flies. Cutaneous leishmaniasis or “oriental sore” results in skin lesions or ulcers, up to several centimetres across. Although in most cases these will eventually resolve and self-cure, they always leave behind an unsightly scar that may be on a sensitive site such as the face. Also some patients can suffer from multiple or persistent cutaneous lesions. Mucocutaneous leishmaniasis or “espundia” is a more serious form of the disease. It initially appears the same as cutaneous disease, but in some patients the infection spreads to the soft cartilage of the nose and palate. This gradually becomes eroded and if left untreated causes severe facial disfigurement. The most deadly form is visceral leishmaniasis or “kala azar”. Here the infection spreads to the internal organs, particularly the spleen and liver, which can become grossly enlarged as a result. Advanced visceral leishmaniasis is almost always fatal unless treated with drugs.

These different forms of leishmaniasis are all caused by various species of Leishmania, single-celled parasites that live inside human macrophages. This is particularly remarkable because macrophages are a key component of the immune response and are normally very effective at killing foreign micro-organisms. However, in patients that do overcome the infection their macrophages are eventually able to kill the parasites within and control the infection. Such individuals show resistance to re-infection, giving hope that vaccines might be developed against leishmaniasis. This is one of our key research aims and in particular understanding a crucial event in the Leishmania life cycle, the transmission of the infection when the parasite, human host and sand fly vector come together. One of our major interests is to investigate the role that a parasite secretory product known as promastigote secretory gel (PSG) plays in this process. PSG enhances transmission by creating a “blocked fly”, forcing the sand fly to regurgitate PSG into the skin along with the parasites, helping to establish the infection. Other interests include the biochemistry and chemotherapy of leishmaniasis and the development of parasite identification and diagnostic tools. We are also investigating the response of the sand fly host to Leishmania infection, and the epidemiology and transmission of leishmaniasis is being investigated in the field and laboratory with colleagues in Ghana, Thailand and Brazil. Many of my research projects are pursued together with my departmental colleague Dr Rod Dillon.

Our research has been supported by funds from The Wellcome Trust, World Health Organisation, Leverhulme Trust, Royal Society and Medical Research Council.

Current Teaching

Currently I teach the following modules:-

  • BIOL322 Tropical Diseases: malaria, haemoflagellates, gut protozoa, flukes and tapeworms, Leishmania culture and diagnostics workshop
  • BIOL387 Bioscience Research Project: student projects on DNA sequencing and phylogeny of Leishmania
  • BIOL389 Bioscience Laboratory Project: student projects on identification of bacteria
  • BIOL390 Bioscience Literature Review: literature reviews in parasitology and microbiology

Additional Information

I am a Professor of Biomedicine within the Division of Biomedical and Life Sciences. I was formerly Associate Dean for Research (2011-14). In this role I worked closely with the Dean and others to develop the Faculty’s research strategy and to promote all aspects of research within the Faculty. I was also responsible for coordination of Faculty preparations and submission for REF2014. In the 2014-15 academic year I am on sabbatical leave and will be devoting myself to research duringthis period.

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