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Parasitology - the study of eukaryotic infectious agents and how they cause disease

Parasites are a broad group of organisms that cause everything from deadly diseases such as malaria and Chaga's disease, to largely harmless ailments such as head lice and tapeworm infections. Parasitology is an exciting area of research with important application not only in medicine but also agriculture, fish farming and veterinary science.

Parasites can be unicellular, microscopically small and live inside the body. They can be larger multicellular nematodes that live inside the body, for example tapeworms that can be from a few millimeters to several meters long. They can also be insects that live on the skin. Many parasites that live inside the body have complicated life cycles and are dependent on insects for transmission between host animals.

Parasites depend on host animals to survive. Their cells, unlike bacteria (prokaryotes), have a complex architecture and an organization of its genetic material similar to that of our own cells, they are eukaryotes. At Umeå University, we are researching several parasites that cause disease in humans and animals:

  • We try to better understand which parts of the malaria parasite's genome are important for the parasite's ability to cause disease and to be transmitted by mosquitoes.
  • We study how humans and mosquitoes respond to infection and interact with the malaria parasite.
  • We conduct research that examines how diseases caused by different parasites are affected by climate change.
  • We are researching the metabolism of the parasite that causes African sleeping sickness with the aim of discovering new weaknesses in the parasite’s armour that may become the target of new medicines.


The aim is to develop new antibiotics

Felipe Cava wants to learn more about the small and complex microbes.

Research groups

Johan Trygg - Chemometrics Lab
Our research focus on advanced data analytics in life science and use modern data science and engineering tools to develop computational models to...
Type of project Research group
Johan Normark lab
Our research is about host immunological and metabolomic responses to acute infections and vaccination.
Type of project Research group
Joacim Rocklöv Lab
The group researches what drives the growth and spread of infectious diseases globally.
Type of project Research group
Anna Linusson Lab
The group is researching new molecules (ligands) with pharmaceutical relevance for sleeping sickness, malaria and dengue fever.
Type of project Research group
Ellen Bushell Lab
The group studies parasite-host interactions that govern malaria infection and disease.
Type of project Research group
Oliver Billker Lab
The Billker lab studies how different species of Plasmodium, the parasites that cause malaria, spread between a human or animal host and mosquitoes...
Type of project Research group
Birgitta Evengård Lab
Our group studies infectious diseases and climate change in the north.
Type of project Research group
Changchun Chen lab
We are investigating acute and chronic oxygen sensation in the nematode C. elegans.
Type of project Research group
Jürgen Schleucher Lab
We have a biophysical approach to study both proteins and nucleic acids and tree rings in relation to climate change.
Type of project Research group
Anders Hofer Lab
We study the biosynthetic pathways of nucleotides in Trypanosoma brucei, Giardia lamblia, Borrelia burgdorferi and other pathogens.
Type of project Research group