Geoff McFadden elected fellow of influential microbiology academy

March 15 / 153

Professor Geoff McFadden
Professor Geoff McFadden


Malaria researcher and surfing enthusiast Professor Geoff McFadden from the School of BioSciences, Faculty of Science has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.


The Academy is the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), the world’s largest professional organisation for life scientists, with over 39,000 members.


Professor McFadden is one of two researchers from Australian institutions among the 79 microbiologists elected to the academy this year.


This was the first time Professor McFadden had been nominated. He said he had been associated with the ASM for a long time and it was nice to receive this recognition for his research and contributions to the society.


“It’s the largest microbiological organisation, and hence the most influential,” he said.


“It runs a large annual conference and publishes a number of very important journals.”


Professor McFadden spent his early career studying the molecular biology of algae and plants, focussing on the origin of the chloroplast. He then turned his attention to the origin of malaria, and made an important and surprising discovery. 


“Plunging through its ancestry we found it was closely related to plants and algae,” he said.


His discovery that the malaria parasite contains relic chloroplast has opened up new opportunities to better understand and ultimately develop new treatments against an organism that infects 200 million people each year, killing around 500,000.


Professor McFadden is hoping to attend the annual meeting of the ASM in New Orleans in June to formally accept his honour.


“I’ll have to learn the secret handshake,” he said.


Visit the McFadden lab website to see a gallery of spectacular images of algae and parasites, or to see the latest swell at Jan Juc.



By Daryl Holland

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