Athar Chishti

Athar Chishti

(617) 636-3457
150 Harrison Ave
Research/Areas of Interest: My primary research interest over the past thirty years has been in the assembly and regulation of the mammalian cytoskeleton with a focus on red blood cells. We study the function of cytoskeletal and signaling proteins in diseases that afflict blood cells. One of my specific research interests is aimed at exploring the molecular mechanisms of malaria parasite invasion in human red blood cells. Currently, we are investigating the mechanism of knob formation in Plasmodium falciparum infected human erythrocytes. Recently we identified erythrocyte Band 3 (anion exchanger 1) and Glycophorin A complex as a crucial receptor for multiple malaria parasite surface proteins. We are investigating additional components of the parasite invasion complex and its functional effect on the host cytoskeleton. Identification of P. falciparum ligands and their cognate host receptors is considered essential for the development of new drugs and vaccines against malaria, a disease that kills nearly 500,000 people each year, and most of these deaths occur in young children in sub-Saharan Africa. Another area of our research interest includes the role of erythrocyte calpain-1 in Sickle cell disease. We generated the first mouse models of calpain-1 and dematin deficiency, thus contributing to the mechanisms of PTP1B regulation, membrane receptor coupling to the cytoskeleton, and calcium mobilization. Recently, we generated the calpain-1 null Sickle mice (Townes Sickle mouse model), and are testing the functional role of calpain activity in sickling and thrombosis. I have contributed my many years of experience in the field of membrane-cytoskeleton by serving as a permanent member of the NIH Study Section (Hematology-2), an editorial board member of the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), and Executive Editor of BBA-Molecular Cell Research. Currently, I maintain an active research program supported by two graduate students, a postdoctoral fellow, and undergraduate researchers. My former trainees include several full Professors/Chair, Vice-Chancellor, and Group leaders at multiple pharmaceutical companies. I have served as a mentor for the NIH Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08). In addition, I have trained students of diverse backgrounds including a graduate student from Nigeria who was awarded a Howard Hughes Pre-doctoral Fellowship; two students from Ghana who received first place poster/conference awards; and several African American students who successfully went on to pursue their further training in medical and graduate schools. Our research program on Malaria and Sickle Cell Disease attracts a large number of minority students at Tufts University.

Education

  • Bachelor of Science, A. M. University, Aligarh, IND, 1980
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University Melbourne/Australia, AUS, 1984

Biography

Our primary research interest is in the assembly and regulation of the mammalian cytoskeleton with a focus on red blood cells. We study the function of cytoskeletal and signaling proteins in diseases that afflict blood cells. Currently, we are investigating the mechanisms of the malaria parasite invasion and growth in human red blood cells. Identification of Plasmodium falciparum ligands and their cognate host receptors is considered essential for the development of new drugs and vaccines against malaria. We also study the role of the cysteine protease termed calpain-1 in sickle cell disease. Our lab generated the first mouse models of calpain-1 and dematin deficiency that contributes to the mechanisms of platelet PTP1B regulation and calcium mobilization. Recently, we developed calpain-1 null sickle mice (Townes sickle mouse model), and are testing the functional role of calpain-1 activity in sickling and thrombosis.