Kevin Saliba is currently Head of the Division of Biomedical Science and Biochemistry at the Research School of Biology at The Australian National University (ANU).
He obtained a BSc in Chemistry and a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Cape Town, South Africa before working as a post-doctoral fellow for Professor Kiaran Kirk at ANU between 1997 and 2004. In 2004, he took up a lectureship at The ANU Medical School. He was promoted to senior lecturer in 2008, Associate Professor in 2014 and Professor in 2019.
Kevin’s research revolves around the key question: “What nutrients are vital for the malaria parasite and how can we stop the parasite from accessing them?”. In particular he focusses on investigating vitamin utilisation pathways in the red blood cell stage of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum as potential drug targets for new antimalarials. He is not only true to his original training as a pharmacologist by exploring new drug classes and repurposing existing ones, but he is also an outstanding cell biologist investigating the physiological interplay between parasite and host and thereby uncovering general principles like nutrient uptake mechanisms, principle of cellular homeostasis and drug resistance. His constant endeavour to convert research finding to outcomes for the field is exemplified by a granted patent and a current patent application. Kevin’s research, his outstanding research training and his teaching has inspired countless students and colleagues.
Kevin has published >65 manuscripts which have resulted in >4,000 citations, including publications in Nature (2x), Nature Communications and PLoS Pathogens. He has received >$3.5M in research funds over the course of his career including a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant for USD 1M for a project entitled “Novel sensor and biomarkers for diagnosis of malaria using human breath.” This project is developing a highly sensitive low-cost and low-invasive diagnostic test for malaria that detects volatile chemicals in exhaled breath and will assess the predictive power of their signature for breath diagnosis of malaria in patients in eastern Sudan.
His scientific standing in the community is evidenced by being an invited speaker at 25 conferences and a session chair at 14 conferences. He has served numerous times as a panel member of the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Grant Review Panel He is a regular reviewer for a wide range of journals including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Cell Reports, EMBO Reports, PLoS Pathogens, Journal of Bacteriology and Molecular Microbiology.
In addition to his excellence in research, Kevin has made a major contribution to the Australian Society for Parasitology (ASP). Kevin was an integral member of the ARC/NHMRC Research Network for Parasitology Management Committee, valued for his integrity, wisdom, and thoughtfulness. Kevin was also a driving force of OzEMalaR, co-authoring the successful application for funding (with Professor Geoff McFadden) and, between 2010 to 2015, serving on the Researcher Exchange Assessment Panel for the Australia-Europe Malaria Research Cooperation Scheme for OzEMalaR) and the European scheme equivalent, EviMalaR. Kevin’s efforts and influence were a critical part of the effort to bind together the Australia’s animal and human health parasitology research communities. More recently, Kevin was the founding Co-Editor-in-Chief (with Andrew Kotze) of the sister journal to the International Journal for Parasitology, IJP: Drugs and Drug Resistance. The journal is growing in stature and number of published articles per year. The journal currently has a five-year impact factor of 3.611 (2017) (Thomson-Reuters). Since 2011, he has served on the ASP Council, has made major contributions to parasitology outreach activities, been recognized by the ANU as an outstanding supervisor of higher degree research students and has provided mentorship to a post-doctoral fellow under the ASP mentorship program.
In view of his outstanding contributions to science, parasitology and the society, Prof Kevin Saliba is an extremely worthy recipient of the title, Fellow of the Australian Society for Parasitology.