Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases Group, Department of Genetics, University of Pretoria
Dr Christian Stutzer is a postdoctoral fellow in the Tick and Tick-borne Disease research group (Department of Genetics, University of Pretoria), functioning mainly as a senior investigator in the Tick Vaccine Development Program. He has been trained in the discipline of biochemistry, with a background in chemistry and genetics, specializing in the field of molecular parasitology. His technical experience is in molecular biology techniques, proteomics, high-throughput transcriptomics (DNA microarrays), recombinant protein production, cell culture, as well as reverse vaccinology tools (including immuno-informatics) and large-scale sequencing technologies (RNA sequencing). The overall focus of his research interests included understanding the biology of the parasite vector to enable rational selection of targets that can be exploited to control ticks and by extension the devastating diseases that they transmit more effectively. Therefore, the main research goal is to produce tools (e.g. vaccines) that can improve the health of livestock, as well as food security, for both commercial and resource-poor producers in Southern Africa. Current research includes the identification of novel candidates for rational vaccine design, combining novel immuno-informatics (in silico), proteomic (in situ) and molecular biology tools, as well as in vivo evaluation of candidates in cattle hosts. Additionally, he is part of a greater research project focusing on elucidating the immunological components that are involved in conferring protection in cattle hosts against tick infestation, as well as developing tools for surveillance and elucidation of the mechanism of resistance in South African tick populations to chemical control. A long term goal is the establishment of a platform for the discovery and development of novel vaccines against parasites of agricultural importance in Southern Africa.