I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry and Applied Molecular Biology from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) before going on to complete a PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 1996. I then moved to the University of Würzburg in Germany to work with Professor Lanzer. In 1998, I returned to the UK to the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, where I worked with Professor Newbold on the Malaria Genome Project and the antigenic switching and cytoadhesive properties of PfEMP1. Between 2003 and 2005 I was located at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine before moving to the Institute for Science and Technology at Keele University on a Royal Society Relocation Fellowship.
In 2006 I was appointed a Lecturer in the School of Medicine and in 2009 I received a BBSRC New Investigator Award and was promoted to Senior Lecturer. In early 2015 I was promoted to Professor in Molecular Parasitology. I have held a variety of Research and Teaching & Learning roles within Keele University, including Senate (2010–2013). I am currently the Strategic Lead for Postgraduate Research Programmes and work extensively with Student Support in the area of serious discipline cases.
I have been an ordinary member of council for the British Society of Parasitology (2009–2012, 2014–16) and was the Society’s Honorary General Secretary (2016–2019), and am on the editorial board for Case Reports in Infectious Disease and ISRN Tropical Medicine as well as serving previously on the editorial boards for Malaria Research and Treatment and Parasitology.
Research and scholarship
Research theme: Therapeutics
I lead one of the six research groups within the Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine that study the biology of the human malarial parasite P. falciparum, its pathogenesis and transmission by the mosquito vector. My work is focussed on the biology of the malarial parasite—and in particular the intraerythrocytic stages on infection in the human host, the principle developmental stages responsible for the pathology of disease.
My research addresses the following areas;
- An investigation of the molecular mechanisms that direct the epigenetic and genetic control of gene expression during intraerythrocytic development
- The application of bioluminescence as a tool to study the action of antimalarial drugs
- An exploration of the action of novel classes of antimalarial drugs
Control of gene expression during intraerythroctyic development is controlled though a variety of molecular mechanisms operating at the epigenetic and genetic levels (Horrocks et al. 2009). Our research interests focus on how these operate to regulate the absolute and temporal programme of expression of house-keeping genes. We employ the use of cell culture, laboratory and bioinformatics techniques to help us better understand their interplay.
Reporter gene studies explore the effect of deletion of sequences that flank genes (Wu et al. 2011) and are combined with bioinformatics analyses to determine the effect of nuclear trans-acting factor against putative cis-acting factors.
We have also modelled the spatio-temporal organisation of the large transcriptional units in P. falciparum to better understand how large transcripts are arrayed over the relatively compact genome (Russell et al., 2013). This not only provides some interesting insights into the selective pressures on the parasite’s genome, but has also been extended to facilitate a comparative analysis of intergenic space organisation in other Apicomplexan parasites that are important for both human and veterinarian health. The nature of the sequences in these intergenic regions have also been explored, and show some interesting features of spatial organisation around key landmarks for gene expression.
More recently, we have been exploring the application of bioluminescence as a tool to monitor various aspects of antimalarial drug activity (Hasenkamp et al., 2013). Comparison against fluorescence assays reveal the two assays share similar profiles, however, bioluminescence may offer attractive opportunities in the development of rate-of-kill and lethal dose estimations.
There is an urgent demand to explore the potential of novel classes of drugs for their potential as new leads for antimalarial development. My laboratory collaborates with colleagues at Keele and Nottingham Trent University in an exploration of the structure activity relationship for synthetic monoindole alkaloids (Horrocks et al., 2012) and chemically modified glycosaminoglycans. The latter, are particularly attractive as their putative mode of action during the inhibition of erythrocyte invasion may be exploited to explore similar invasion blocking activity for a range of Apicomplexan parasites.
Our laboratory collaborates closely with other members of Keele University (Life Sciences and Chemistry), nationally with Nottingham Trent University and Charnwood Molecular Ltd and internationally with colleagues at the Universities of Massachussetts at Lowell and California at Riverside. The lab currently has one PhD student (Mr Imran Ullah), one MPhil student (Ms Haddi Mbye) and currently at any time between 1–4 undergraduate students.
Previous laboratory members
Postdoc: Dr Sandra Hasenkamp (2010–2013)
PhD: Eleanor Wong (Graduated 2011)
MSc: Caroline Marshall (2008), Rebecca Knight (2008), Adam Worton (2009), Adrian Martin (2010), Robyn Kent (2011), Jolande Jefferson (2012), Amy Roberts (2013), Rhiannon Blow (2013)
Undergraduate (Medicine): Mohammed Quadri, Neil Amison, Daniel Monnery, Srdjan Milic (Wellcome Trust Biomedical Vacation Scholarship), Laura Denman, Oliver Devine (Wellcome Trust Biomedical Vacation Scholarship), John Nathan Spence, Joshua Kearsley, Rose O’ Duffy and Nicolas Ellerby.
Undergraduate (Life Sciences): Emma-Louise Meredith, Anthony Harper, Adam Sidaway (Nuffield Foundation Summer Scholarship), Richard Roye, Taiwo Frank-Isewon, Cynthia Ariko, Dalbir Kaur, Janalou Malpango, Helena Briggs and Emma Knight.
Visitors: Mathilde Andre and Mélanie Rault (both IUT Saint Brieuc, France)
Horrocks laboratory photowall
Our laboratory is supported financially by awards from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Royal Society, North Staffordshire Medical Institute, Keele University, Wellcome Trust and Nuffield Foundation.
If you are interested in exploring opportunities to join my research laboratory, please contact me at email@example.com.
I am responsible for the design and delivery of a range of teaching activities (PBL, lectures, seminars, practical classes, research project placements) and their assessment in support of undergraduate and postgraduate taught courses within Schools of Medicine and Life Sciences and within the Keele/Salford MSc programme for Molecular Parasitology and Entomology. I have been a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since 2008.
I have received Teaching Excellence nominations 2014–2018 and a Times Higher Education Nomination for student support in 2018. I was awarded Keele Student Union Superb Supervisor Award (2015 and 2016) in support of Research Project and PGR support.
School of Medicine:
- Within the MBChB programme I am theme lead for Professional Knowledge as well as lead for the Scholarship Unit in Year 1.
- Deputy to Director of Medical Sciences (Research) in School of Medicine (2016–present) and line manage academic staff on mixed R&E/T&L roles
- Year Lead (Year 1 lead 2007–2008, Year 4 lead 2010–2014) for Keele MBChB programme and Module lead (Year 2 2006–2007) for the Manchester MBChB validated course
School of Life Sciences:
- Level 6 Biology of Disease and Honours Research Project placements
- Research placements in support of MSc Biomedical Blood Sciences
External Examiner for MSc programmes at the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (2015–2017) and the Liverpool School for Tropical Medicine (2015–2019) and in 2016 as an international external examiner for Parasitology course in Khartoum, Sudan.
- June 2018 £3200 British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (3 months) in support of Maria van Veelen
- June 2017 £4823 Keele University Research Support Fund (PI H Price, coapplicants HORROCKS P and IOSET J-R, Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, Geneva, 6 months)
- Feb 2017 £274K British Council Institutional Links Newton-Mosharafa Egypt (PI H Price and S AbouAkkada, coapplicants HORROCKS P, Khanim F, Snauffer A, Tate E, Nash R, 24 months)
- Feb 2016 Daphne Jackson Trust with Medical Research Council (24 months c £50,000) in support of Dr Venugolopan
- Dec 2015 PhD funding (36 months, £59,00) for Mufuliat Famodimu
- July 2016 INSPIRE award (2 months, £1000) for Ben Miflin
- Jun 2015 HEFCE capital award (£5000) for MSC for Cat III facility
- Jun 2015 Wellcome Trust Biomedical Vacation Scholarship (2 months, £2000) Screening a novel library of temperate-zone plant natural products for antimalarial activity for William Jacobek
- Apr 2015 PhD funding (36 months, £61,500) for Muqdad Hmoud
- Mar 2015 Royal Society Research Grant (12 months £14,900) as coPI with Terresa Philips, Keele University
- Feb 2015 High Value Chemicals from Plants Proof-of-concept award (12 months, £5000) with PhytoQuest Ltd
- Dec 2014 Innovation UK award funding (3 months, £5000) from MedSynDesign Ltd
- Nov 2014 PhD funding (36 months, £61,500) for Hamzah Hameed
- July 2014 INSPIRE award (2 months, £1000) for Christopher Lee
- Apr 2014 PhD funding (36 months, £63,000) for Ibrahim Faris Ali
- Sept 2013 MPhil funding (12 months, £18500) for Haddijatou Mbye
- Mar 2013 Bridging the Gaps MRC Centenary Award (12 months, £7000) coapplicant with WenWu-Li, Keele University
- Feb 2013 Eric Reid Fund for Methodology Application, Biochemical Society (2 months, £1200)
- 2013 HEFCE capital award (£10000) for infrastructure development in Cat III facility
- 2013 HEFCE capital award (£2573) to support Bridging the Gaps award
- Sept 2012 Keele University ACORN funding (36 months, £19500) PhD support for Imran Ullah
- Mar 2012 Medical Research Council industrial CASE studentship with Charnwood Molecular Ltd (36 months £109,288) to Mark Skidmore (P Horrocks, S. Allin, EA Yates and MJ McKenzie as coinvestigators). Novel glycotherapeutics for Alzheimer's disease
- May 2011 Royal Society Research Grant (12 months £14,870) to P. Horrocks and S Hasenkamp. Development of a rapid, simple and sensitive luciferase-based growth assay for the high throughput screening of antimalarial drugs.
- May 2011 Wellcome Trust Biomedical Vacation Scholarship (2 months, £1440) Evaluation of a stably integrated luciferase reporter cassette in Plasmodium falciparum for use in high throughput screening of antimalarial drugs for Oliver Devine
- Jan 2011 Keele University Innovation Funding (12 months £10,000) to M. Skidmore, S. Allin, P Horrocks, K Haxter and P Procter. Novel Therapeutics for Severe Malaria - chemically modified, carbohydrate based, polymeric inhibitors of rosetting.
- Jan 2010 North Staffordshire Research Institute Award (24 months £7,100) to P Horrocks and S Allin. An evaluation of the novel bis-indole alkaloid buchtienine as an antimalarial drug
- Dec 2009 BBSRC New Investigator Award (36 months, £428,431). Identification, validation and therapeutic potential of cis-trans interactions that direct coordinated gene expression in Plasmodium falciparum.
- Apr 2009 Wellcome Trust Biomedical Vacation Scholarship (2 months, WTD004448, £1440) An evaluation of magnetic nanoparticle-mediated delivery of exogenous DNA into the human malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum for Srdjan Milicic
- Sept 2008 BBSRC DTG Award tos Mrs Karen Russell (5 years, part-time PhD, £51000)
- Jan 2008 North Staffordshire Research Institute Award (12 months £10,000) to SJ Chakravorty and P Horrocks. An investigation of the role of Plasmodium falciparum infected erythrocyte knobs in mediating endothelial damage during cytoadhesion.
- Sept 2007 Royal Society Conference Award (A4504-A365) £923 to attend and present at Woods Hole Molecular Parasitology Meeting.
- Sept 2006 GTA award to support Ms E Wong (3 years, full-time, £51000)
- Sept 2006 Start-up funding (£10000) to equip Cat III facilities
- Sept 2005 Royal Society UK Relocation Fellowship (12 months, 502014.K515/LT/sm, £54,105) Histone modifications and their role in P. falciparum transcriptional regulation.
I welcome applications from students who wish to undertake PhD or MPhil postgraduate research studies in my team. Former, and current, postgraduate students include UK nationals as well as overseas students from South Asia, the Middle East and West Africa, undertaking both full-time and part-time studies in my laboratory. Interested students can contact me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss potential projects as well as the application process for these degrees.
Please note that students wishing to apply for funded scholarship opportunities (eg. Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme) should contact me well in advance of the deadline in order to effectively support your application.
My current research interests are indicated on the Research and Scholarship tab. Previous postgraduate students have submitted theses (and published their work) on topics as diverse as the molecular mechanisms that control gene expression in the human malarial parasite, comparative investigation of intergenic regions in apicomplexan parasites to antimalarial and antileishmanial drug discovery projects. Often, our research is in collaboration with international academic partners and Pharmaceutical companies
My team works closely with those of other investigators interested in parasite biology as part of the Centre for Applied Entomology and Parasitology (CAEP) providing a stimulating collegiate environment for postgraduate research students, regular contact with your supervisory team and access to modern research facilities. Thank you for your interest in my research team.
School of Pharmacy and Bioengineering
Research centre address:
School of Pharmacy and Bioengineering
Guy Hilton Research Centre
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 674988
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