Postdoctoral Research Award 2018
Anat Florentin, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, studies molecular mechanisms that drive life stages of Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of parasite species that infect humans with malaria. During her exceptionally productive years at UGA, she has advanced two related areas of research to learn more about the functions of P. falciparum genes and metabolic pathways. First, she established a highly efficient, markerless system to create mutants more rapidly using the powerful CRISPR-Cas9-based genetic editing tool. Her data from this project was published in the high-impact journal mSphere. Second, she used the CRISPR-Cas9 tool to understand P. falciparum’s unique plastid known as the apicoplast, which harbors essential metabolic pathways for the parasite’s growth and whose biological processes could be ideal parasite-specific drug targets. This work has been recognized by multiple invitations to present her work and a first author publication in Cell Reports.