Leish sticker logo

The Wheeler Lab

The Wheeler Lab

Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford

We are a research group based in Oxford interested in the fundamental cell biology of the Leishmania parasite.

The Parasite

Leishmania cause a serious human disease, Leishmaniasis, in many tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. They are single celled eukaryotic parasites which are carried in the gut of sandflies. When a sandfly bites a person the parasites are transmitted in the fly's saliva and can infect their macrophages. Leishmania are a tough and persistent parasite and, depending on the species, can cause symptoms from mild but disfiguring skin lesions to death.

The Research

The main research focus of the lab is the flagellum: The 'tail' of the parasite that they use to swim. However, we are also interested in wider questions of how the parasite generates and controls its shape, how this adapts the parasite cells to be effective pathogens and how they evolved from non-pathogenic species.

Wider research interests include the related parasites Trypanosoma which also cause human disease. General questions about how eukaryote cells organise their internal structure are also of particular interest.


The main methods are classic cell biology, molecular biology and biochemistry techniques, supported by mathematical and computational simulation, biophysics, and automated image analysis. Advanced microscopy coupled with semi and fully automated image analysis are particular specialities of the lab.

Wheeler Lab

Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford

Supported by funding from the Wellcome Trust