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New Director at MIMS

Olivier Billker

The Swedish node of the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine, MIMS (Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden) has announced that that Dr. Oliver Billker from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK, has been recruited as the institute’s future director.

Oliver Billker is an expert in malaria parasite genomics. In October 2018, he will succeed the founding Director of MIMS, Professor Bernt Eric Uhlin, who has held the role since 2007. Oliver BillkerBillker studies how different species of Plasmodium, the parasites that cause malaria, spread between a human or animal host and mosquitoes, and how they use cues from their hosts to time mating and reproduction. Understanding the transmission of malaria is the key to the development of prevention and treatment strategies against the disease which still kills almost half a million people each year, most of them children under the age of five. Most recently his laboratory has been at the forefront of developing new genetic methods to study the biology of these important parasites.

Billker will hold a professorship in the Department of Molecular Biology, Umeå University from September 2018, the administrative home of MIMS and where several MIMS research groups are hosted and where he will set up his new laboratory.

“Starting at the very beginning of its 50-year history, Umeå University has built a strong reputation in infectious disease research, which I personally first became aware of during my postgraduate studies in London. Under the leadership of its founding director, Professor Bernt Eric Uhlin, MIMS has since come to represent this tradition, while placing it firmly in the context of molecular medicine research in Europe”, Billker says about his new workplace.

Born in Germany, Oliver Billker studied biology at Freie Universität Berlin. He earned his PhD from University of London for his thesis on “Regulation of Gametogenesis in Malaria Parasites”, which is based on studies that he performed at the Imperial College in London. Billker was from 1999-2002 postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin funded by an EMBO Long Term Fellowship and – as Marie Curie Fellow – postdoctoral fellow at the Imperial College in London. In 2003, he became Senior Research Fellow and five years later he earned associate professor status as Principle Research Fellow. Since 2007, he is Senior Group Leader at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and one of the lead investigators for the PlasmoGEM project at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute Malaria Programme.