Molecular parasitology; developmental regulation of gene expression in response to the environment
The primary focus of Dr. Williams's research is on the parasitic protozoans, Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent for African sleeping sickness and Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent for Chagas disease in Latin America. These parasites have been difficult to target with vaccines. Many of the current chemotherapeutic agents are quite toxic and alternative approaches are needed. She is interested in the developmentally regulated processes that are required for successful transmission of the organism from one host to another [e.g. insect to human]. By understanding these processes, we may also be able to prevent transmission and the completion of the life cycle of the parasite. Critical enzyme complexes, such as the mitochondrial ATP synthase, or key processes, such as ribosomal biogenesis, are excellent targets for such transmission blocks.