Ian Cheeseman, Ph.D., a former staff scientist in the Department of Genetics at Texas Biomed, has been appointed to the faculty position of assistant scientist and will serve as the Milton S. & Geraldine M. Goldstein Young Scientist at Texas Biomedical Research Institute. Cheeseman has worked in the lab of scientist Dr. Timothy Anderson since 2010 when he joined Texas Biomed as a post-doctoral scientist.
Cheeseman’s primary area of research is malaria, which kills an estimated 600 thousand people every year and has developed resistance to all available classes of antimalarial drugs. Cheeseman aims to understand the genetics of malaria parasite infections and the selective forces shaping parasite genome diversity, including the recent acquisition of drug resistance.
“We are excited Ian has committed to joining the faculty at Texas Biomed,” said Michael Olivier, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Genetics. “He has made a significant impact in the area of malaria genetics research, and developed innovative novel approaches for his studies. We look forward to watching his research program expand as he looks for genetic answers to aid in the fight against malaria.”
Malaria infections frequently involve multiple parasites with distinct genetic backgrounds. These complex malaria infections challenge standard genetic analysis. Cheeseman has developed methods to isolate individual malaria parasites, amplify genetic material using whole genome amplification and generate whole genome sequence. This “single cell genomics” approach can be used to investigate the composition of malaria infections. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded Cheeseman a $1.8 million grant in 2014 over four years to continue his research in this area. At 31, Cheeseman was one of the youngest recipients of such an award in the country.
Marking the second cover story in a major scientific journal for scientists at Texas Biomed in 2015, some of Cheeseman’s work has most recently been highlighted on the cover of the Nature Methods in July. Cheeseman was part of a team of researchers led by the Centers for Infectious Disease Research (formerly Seattle BioMed) and in partnership with the University of Notre Dame, to develop a new tool in the fight against malaria.
He and Senior Research Associate Shalini Nair in Dr. Anderson’s lab worked on the project to develop a more efficient method for creating genetic crosses in the lab between the protozoan parasites that cause malaria. This method could rapidly increase understanding of malaria drug resistance, which could lead to more effective treatment and potentially better drugs.
“The work I have pursued at Texas Biomed breaks new ground, and I believe it will help in the fight against malaria,” Cheeseman said. “I am excited to become part of a very talented group of faculty at Texas Biomed and continue to grow my research and my career here. I am honored to be named as the first Milton S. & Geraldine M. Goldstein Young Scientist, which was created by a very generous bequest from the Goldsteins.”
Cheeseman received his Ph.D. in parasite genetics and his Master of Science degree in molecular biology of infectious diseases from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London, England. He has his Bachelor of Science degree in genetics from the University of Leicester in Leicester, England.
In 2014, Cheeseman was invited to present at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Annual Meeting. He also presented on the Evolution of Drug Resistance at the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics and at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine last year. Additionally, he served as a session host for the 2014 American Committee of Molecular, Cellular, and Immunoparasitology on the Biology of Malaria and Other Protozoa in New Orleans, LA.
Texas Biomed, formerly the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, is one of the world’s leading independent biomedical research institutions dedicated to advancing global human health through innovative biomedical research. Located on a 200-acre campus on the northwest side of San Antonio, Texas, the Institute partners with hundreds of researchers and institutions around the world, targeting advances in the fight against emerging infectious diseases, AIDS, hepatitis, malaria, parasitic infections and a host of other diseases, as well as cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and problems of pregnancy. For more information on Texas Biomed, go to www.TxBiomed.org, or call Lisa Cruz, Texas Biomed’s Director of Public Relations, at 210-258-9437.