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Brief Profile of the Awardee


Dr Deepak Gaur

  • 2017
  • Medical Sciences
  • 18/09/1972
  • Malaria Parasite Biology and Vaccine Development
Award Citation:

Dr Gaur has discovered a novel multiprotein adhesion complex on the surface of Plasmodium falciparum that is essential for erythrocyte invasion and a highly potent target of strain-transcending parasite neutralization.

Academic Qualifications:
Thesis and Guide details:
Details of CSIR Fellowship/ Associateship held, if any or from other sources/ agencies.
Significant foreign assignments:
(a) Significant contributions to science and/ or technology development by the nominee based on the work done in India during most part of last 5 years:
Dr Deepak Gaur has been leading his own independent research program in India for the past 8 years on studying the molecular biology of the human malaria parasites, Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, with a special emphasis on understanding the molecular basis of red cell invasion and translating these findings in the development of blood-stage malaria vaccines. In light of our still poor understanding of the red cell invasion process, Dr Gaur’s research accomplishments have significantly contributed to our understanding of the molecular complexity of red cell invasion, which can be gauged from his publications in reputed international journals that are highly cited with a cumulative impact factor of 140. His major contribution has been the functional characterization of a novel family of Reticulocyte binding-like (RBL) parasite proteins that are conserved in both P, falciparum [P. falciparum reticulocyte binding-like homologous (PfRH)] and P. vivax [P. vivax reticulocyte binding proteins (PvRBP)] and their validation as malaria vaccine candidates. Dr Gaur’s work has shown that the PfRH//PvRBP proteins play a crucial role in erythrocyte/reticulocyte invasion and are key determinants of different invasion pathways used by the parasites. In a major discovery, he has identified a novel multiprotein adhesion complex comprising of PfRH5 on the merozoite surface that is essential for P. falciparum erythrocyte invasion (PNAS, USA 2015). PfRH5 is a leading blood-stage vaccine candidate that is essential for erythrocyte invasion as it engages with the erythrocyte receptor, Basigin. Dr Gaur’s work discovered that PfRH5 exists on the parasite surface in the form of a multiprotein complex in which it interacts directly with the novel parasite proteins, CyRPA and Ripr (PNAS, USA 2015).. The multiprotein complex PfRH5/Ripr/CyRPA was detected on the apical parasite surface that initiates erythrocyte invasion where it stabilizes PfRH5 facilitating its binding with Basigin. In the process, CyRPA has been identified as a potent vaccine target whose antibodies block invasion through a novel mechanism of abrogating complex formation (PNAS, USA 2015).. 8 In a recent and highly significant piece of research on the neglected and challenging human malaria parasite, P. vivax, Dr Gaur has elucidated the reticulocyte binding specificity of the 2 P. vivax RBLs (PvRBP1a/PvRBP2c) and has mapped their specific receptor binding domains (J. Inf. Dis. 2017). Importantly, naturally acquired human antibodies against the reticulocyte-binding domains efficaciously blocked reticulocyte-binding of native PvRBPs, suggesting that the human immune system produced functional binding-inhibitory antibodies through exposure to vivax malaria (J. Inf. Dis. 2017).. Thus, Dr Gaur has demonstrated that Reticulocyte binding domains of PvRBP2c/PvRBP1a are targets of naturally acquired binding-inhibitory antibodies, substantiating their promise as candidate antigens against which vaccine-inducible immunity could potentially be boosted through natural infections. Both these studies have major implications in understanding parasite invasion and developing novel malaria vaccines. The PNAS study has been cited 38 times in the past 2 years and highlighted in Nature Reviews Microbiology (Du Toit A. 2015 Parasite biology: an anchor for Plasmodium invasion). Dr Gaur’s additional research accomplishments in India are as follows:  Identification & Functional Characterization of a novel sialic acid binding P. falciparum parasite ligand involved in erythrocyte invasion (Scientific Reports, 2016).  First research group to successfully produce PfRH5 as a full length recombinant protein in E.
(b) Impact of the contributions in the field concerned:
Dr Deepak Gaur’s research contributions have made a major impact on both our basic understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie the process of red cell invasion by the malaria parasites as well as have major implications on the applied front in translating these findings in the development of novel malaria vaccines. On the basic front, his work has helped in identifying P. falciparum Reticulocyte bindinglike (PfRH) proteins as well as other novel parasite proteins as key determinants of invasion through multiple alternate pathways (Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 2006; PNAS 2007; Cell Host Microbe 2008). He has functionally characterized the erythrocyte binding properties of the different parasite ligands including PfRH proteins as well as mapped their functional receptor binding domain (PNAS 2007; Cell Host & Microbe 2008; PLOS One 2011; PLOS One 2013; Infect. Immun. 2013, Infect. Immun. 2014). In his most significant piece of work, Dr Gaur has discovered the mechanism through which PfRH5, an essential parasite protein and highly attractive vaccine target, is stabilized on the parasite surface facilitating its engagement with its erythrocyte receptor (PNAS 2015). Dr Gaur’s group has identified that the essential parasite ligand PfRH5 exists as a multiprotein complex on the parasite surface. The formation of this multiprotein complex is essential for red cell invasion by the malaria parasite (PNAS 2015) and has advanced our understanding of the crucial steps involved in the intricate process of erythrocyte invasion (PNAS 2015). Dr Gaur has expanded his research on P. vivax, a neglected and highly challenging malaria parasite as it cannot be cultured long term under laboratory conditions. P. vivax preferentially invades only young immature red cells known as reticulocytes and the molecular basis of this specificity is yet not well understood. In another very recent piece of work on, P. vivax, Dr Gaur has functionally characterized the native PvRBP parasite proteins and shown that the two reticulocyte specific binding proteins (PvRBP1a and PvRBP2c) exhibit distinct receptor specificities implying that they bind with two reticulocyte receptors (J. Inf. Dis. 2017). He has also mapped the specific reticulocyte binding domains of the two large molecular mass PvRBP1a and PvRBP2c parasite proteins that correlated with the binding specificities of the native parasite proteins (J. Inf. Dis. 2017). This is the first report on the binding specificities of any native P. vivax parasite protein and the novel discovery suggests that redundancy and alternate invasion pathways mediate P. vivax reticulocyte invasion (J. Inf. Dis. 2017). On the applied front, Dr Gaur’s research has huge implications for the development of novel blood-stage malaria vaccines that aim at reducing clinical disease. His group has standardized an automated FACS based in vitro assay to precisely measure the ability of antibodies against different parasite antigens to neutralize the invasiveness as well as growth of the parasite (PLOS One 2011). Through this assay, Dr Gaur has analyzed the invasion inhibitory activity of antibodies against several parasite antigens and has thus validated their vaccine potential (PLOS One 2011, Infect. Immun. 2013, Cellular Microbiology 2013, PLOS One 2013, Infect. Immun.
Places where work of last 5 years has been referred/ cited in Books, Reviews:
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The Awardee a fellow of the Indian National Science Academy/Indian Academy of Sciences/National Academy of Sciences/Others:
The Awardee delivered invited lecture(s) in India/abroad and/or chaired any scientific Internatiional Conference Symposium:
List of Awardee's 10 most significant publications.
List of Awardee's 5 most significant publications during the last 5 years
List of Awardee's 5 most significant publications from out of work done in India during the last five years:
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Contact Details

  • School of Biotechnology
    Jawaharlal Nehru University
    New Mehrauli Road Munirka
    New Delhi - 110067
    Delhi INDIA
  • 011 2673 8892
  • 011 2674 2040
  • deepakgaur[at]mail[dot]jnu[dot]ac[dot]in
23 Oct 2017, http://ssbprize.gov.in/Content/Detail.aspx?AID=533