Associate Professor Chris Tonkin

Associate Professor Chris Tonkin



Associate Professor Chris Tonkin in the lab


Associate Professor

BSc(Hons) PhD Melbourne 

Laboratory Head

Our lab’s research is focused on the parasites Plasmodium, that causes malaria, and Toxoplasma, that causes toxoplasmosis

Despite causing very different diseases, Plasmodium and Toxoplasma are closely related parasites and use similar processes to survive and proliferate within our body. 

We are revealing how these two globally significant parasites invade human cells. Our aim is to find molecular targets for new treatments and vaccines that would ultimately reduce the global burden of these parasitic diseases.

Research interest

Our lab is using genetic and biochemical methods to find new theraputeic targets to treat Plasmodium and Toxoplasma infection. Given that invasion is essential for survival of both Toxoplasma and Plasmodium we believe defining the molecular machinery that regulates this process could lead to new therapeutic targets for much needed new drugs and vaccines. 

We are particularly interested in understanding the molecular pathways that parasites use to sense they have contacted an appropriate host cell and to activate invasion, while also defining the molecular machinery that drives host cell invasion. 



Hands holding a laboratory dish

Research into malaria and toxoplasmosis, and the immune response to infection benefits from Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowships program.


It’s thought that an infection in humans caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii could cause a change in our behaviour—even a change in our personality that could 'make us' like cats.