Tony Holder

Tony Holder

Qualifications and history

  • 1972-1975 PhD Genetics, University of Leeds, UK
  • 1975-1978 Postdoctoral fellow, The Carlsberg Laboratory, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 1978-1988 Senior Scientist, The Wellcome Research Laboratories, Beckenham, UK
  • 1988-2015 Head, Division of Parasitology, MRC-NIMR, Mill Hill, UK
  • 2015 Group Leader, the Francis Crick Institute, London, UK

Tony has worked on parasitic protozoa for almost 40 years, first on Trypanosoma brucei but for most of the time focused on the malaria parasite. His initial studies were on glycosylation of the T. brucei variant surface glycoprotein and its now well-characterized glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchor.

In malaria his early work showed that single proteins affinity purified from the parasite could be used to immunise against blood stage infection. One of these proteins is a member of the RH family that has recently seen resurgence in interest as vaccine candidates. The second is the well-known merozoite surface protein 1 (MSP1) which he characterised extensively. He has described a range of parasite proteins involved in invasion and colonisation of erythrocytes, particularly proteins located on the parasite surface and in apical secretory organelles.

More recently he has contributed to understanding how the parasite's molecular motor provides the force that drives motility and invasion and the role of calcium dependent protein kinase 1 (CDPK1) in phosphorylating motor components. He has contributed to two potential drug discovery programmes based on his fundamental observations in parasite biology, and targeting CDPK1 and the enzyme N-myristoyl transferase (NMT). NMT-mediated acylation is a key modification of several proteins with roles in Apicomplexan biology such as the motor complex and the unique inner membrane complex structure that underlies the plasma membrane.

His work has ranged from molecular studies in the laboratory to community studies in human populations in malaria endemic areas. At the ‘molecular’ end of this spectrum this work covers genetic, protein structure and function, and cell biology studies.