Miss Natasha Hirst

Research project: Global Protein Kinase Signalling in the Human Parasite Schistosoma mansoni


Schistosomiasis is a devastating parasitic disease infecting at least 230 million people per year (Colley et al. 2014). Kinases regulate a whole spectrum of functions within the cell including cell division, replication, death and signalling. Eukaryotic kinases are highly conserved across species, including schistosomes and have the potential to provide integral drug targets for the disease, however there is a lack of research into the critical signalling and the pathways of schistosome kinases. Therefore our lab is elucidating functional roles for multiple kinase signalling pathway across different schistosome life stages using 'smart antibodies' to detect kinases in their active form, phosphoproteomics to discover the vast array of phosphorylated protein in the parasite, as well as use of peptide arrays to analyse difference in kinase status throughout varying circumstances to ultimately further our overall understanding of the cell biology of schistosomes.

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: Global Protein Kinase Signalling in the Human Parasite Schistosoma mansoni
  • Research supervisor: Professor Tony Walker
  • Other research supervisor: Dr Scott Lawton


I began my academic career as an undergraduate student at Oxford Brookes University studying Biomedical Sciences, before discovering a passion for parasite and cell signalling biology whilst studying for my Masters by Research at Kingston University under the supervision of Professor Tony Walker. I am currently in the third year of my PhD studying global kinase signalling across the human parasite Schistosoma mansoni, developing and using a variety of exciting techniques.

Areas of research interest

  • Schistosome biology
  • Cell signalling biology
  • Protein kinase signalling


  • BSc in Biomedical Sciences, Life Sciences, Oxford Brookes University
  • MSc in Cell Signalling Biology, Molecular Parasitology Group, Kingston University

Funding or awards received

  • Foundation Grant from Funds for Women Graduates (FFWG) 2017.


Hirst, N.L., Lawton, S.P., Walker, A.J., Protein kinase A signalling in Schistosoma mansoni cercariae and schistosomules, International Journal for Parasitology (2016), doi: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1016/j.ijpara.2015.12.001