Dr Jack Sunter

Senior Lecturer

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

Jack Sunter

Role

I am a molecular cell biologist and microscopist by training who is fascinated by the ability of parasites to subvert their host organism enabling them to thrive. I studied Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, before spending nearly a year working at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi. I then returned to Cambridge where I did my PhD supervised by Professor Mark Carrington studying the cell biology of the parasite Trypanosoma brucei. I then switched to the University of Oxford for my post-doc with Professor Keith Gull. In 2017 I took the opportunity to come to Oxford Brookes University to establish my own research group.

Teaching and supervision

Courses

Modules taught

I am module leader for Molecular Biology and Research Methods for Healthcare Sciences modules.

I also contribute to the teaching of the Microbiology and Genomic medicine modules and supervise final year undergraduate research projects in the lab.

Supervision

I currently supervise 3 PhD students - Clare Halliday, Laura Smithson and Lauren Wilburn.

Research

In my lab, we use the flagellated eukaryotic parasites Trypanosoma brucei and Leishmania mexicana to understand the fundamental processes that define the cell organisation underlying parasite interactions with their hosts and vectors. The distinctive shape of trypanosomes and Leishmania is formed by a corset of cross-linked microtubules that are just beneath the cell membrane and both have a flagellum that provides the propulsive force enabling them to move. We focus on understanding the morphogenesis of cytoskeletal-membrane interfaces that contribute to i) cell and substrate attachments, ii) interaction with the insect vector and mammalian host. To do this we use a range of modern molecular cell biology techniques combined with both light end electron microscopy.

Research impact

We have strong links with research groups in Africa, primarily at the University of Ghana and we are combining our expertise to  understand in detail the impact of animal African trypanosomiasis and develop new approaches to combat it.

My group regularly engages the public primarily through the Brookes Science Bazaar where we demonstrate how we can use microscopy to investigate the fascinating biology of parasites.

Groups

Projects as Principal Investigator, or Lead Academic if project is led by another Institution

  • Combining sequencing technologies for identifying secondary mutations (07/03/2022 - 06/03/2024), funded by: Leverhulme Trust, funding amount received by Brookes: £118,679
  • Defining The Molecular Determinants Required For Leishmania Life Cycle Progression And Virulence (led by University of Glasgow) (01/06/2021 - 31/05/2026), funded by: Wellcome Trust, funding amount received by Brookes: £427,983
  • Parasite sequestration in the insect vector (02/09/2020 - 30/08/2023), funded by: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), funding amount received by Brookes: £20,000
  • Building a parasite flagellum: From component biochemistry to cell biological organisation (01/06/2020 - 31/05/2022), funded by: Royal Society, funding amount received by Brookes: £99,000
  • Identifying the molecular determinants of the interaction between the Leishmania metacyclic form... (18/03/2019 - 26/03/2020), funded by: Royal Society, funding amount received by Brookes: £17,795

Publications

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