Fellow of the Australian Society for Parasitology
Dr Peter Upcroft completed his undergraduate studies at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Sydney in the early 1970’s and subsequently went on to complete his PhD at the University of Sydney. His first post-doctoral position was at Harvard Medical School and second at the University of California, Los Angeles in U.S.A. The latter led to Peter developing skills in genetic engineering. In the late 1970s Peter was recruited to QIMR as a Senior Scientist and Head of the fledgling Recombinant DNA Unit; subsequently, he was promoted to Research Scientist, Senior Research Fellow and, ultimately, Principal Research Fellow. One of Peter’s most significant bodies of work was developing the first mammalian cell assay for recombination functions using SV40 DNA segments and then followed by SV40-based plasmids. Modifications of this approach continue to be used. He also developed novel DNA transformation and cloning methods. In the late 1980’s, Peter teamed up with the late Peter Boreham, and commenced their internationally-recognised studies investigating the genome organisation, drug resistance, biology, and epidemiology of Giardia. Subsequently, they extended their research to studies of Trichomonas and Entamoeba.
The team published a prolific number of papers on these three protozoan parasites, including joint authorship of the break-through draft genome sequence of T. vaginalis, which was published in Science in 2007. In his distinguished career, this work has attracted substantial funding from: the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Research Council, the NSW Milk Board, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Harvard University, University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Queensland.
Peter was renowned for training and mentoring of technical staff, exceptionally gifted PhD students and post-docs and equally well known for research networks: establishing major collaborations with scientists in the USA, Mexico, France, Thailand, Switzerland, PNG, Canada, Sri Lanka and the former Czech Republic.
Peter has been generous in sharing their team’s work with the national and international parasitology community. Presenting at many ASP meetings and invitations to speak at conferences in Australia and overseas. Peter organised a series of well-received Giardia/Entamoeba/Trichomonas meetings at QIMR, and in Prague and Sardinia.
We acknowledge Peter’s huge contribution to parasitology and recognise that Peter Upcroft is a worthy recipient of a Fellowship of the Australian Society for Parasitology.