Prof Julius Lukeš
Director, Biology Centre, Institute of Parasitology, Czech Academy of Science
• Molecular parasitology
• Evolutionary biology
FEMS Expert: Prof Julius Lukeš
After completing a PhD in parasitology in the Czech Republic, Prof Julius Lukeš went for several post-doc stays in the Netherlands and USA and since 1999 work has worked at the Institute of Parasitology, Czech Academy of Sciences, of which he is presently director.
In 2013 he became Senior Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. His lab studies the model parasitic protists Trypanosoma and Leishmania, using a wide range of methods. They have functionally analyzed dozens of mitochondrial proteins, with the focus on those involved in RNA editing and processing, Fe-S cluster assembly, tRNA maturation and import, ion import/export, respiration and heme metabolism.
Julius also kept intense interest in phylogeny of kinetoplastids and other protists, and tried to address evolutionary questions. At the same time, his research group participated in diagnostic efforts of leishmaniases, studies of host-parasite co-evolution and the relationship of trypanosomes with their hosts. Julius has also retained interest in field research, each year collecting protists (for example, from Tara Polar Circle expedition, Papua New Guinea, Ecuador, Madagascar, Ghana, Vietnam, Cuba, The Philippines, China etc.) to culture and analyze them.
Therefore, his lab is known for work on phylogeny, evolution and diversity of kinetoplastid flagellates, guidelines for protist barcoding, etc.
Julius’ broad interest in protists led him to studies of chromerids, recently discovered free-living predecessors of Plasmodium, with unique evolutionary and medically important organellar features, which provided strong evidence for the long-disputed origin of apicoplast. He is also interested in popularizing science, and thanks to numerous articles in journals and newspapers, interviews in TVs and radios, he is frequently asked by the Czech and occasionally foreign media (UK, USA) for his expert opinion on parasitology, issues concerning self-infections, changes of the human microbiome, etc. He has always enjoyed collaborations and most of his papers published within the last decade have been collaborative efforts.