The Institute of Parasitology, the part of the Biology Centre CAS that is a public research institution, pursues fundamental research on human and animal parasites at the organismal, cellular and molecular levels. The mission of the Institute is to acquire, advance, and disseminate knowledge of the biology and host relationships of parasitic protists and related eukaryotic microorganisms, helminths, and and arthropods. The Institute pursues its mission through research, education and other activities at both the national and international levels. The results obtained have contributed to the prevention and control of human and animal parasitic diseases and had an impact on agriculture.
The Institute of Parasitology was established in Prague in 1962, but was relocated to České Budějovice in South Bohemia in 1985. The Institute represents a principal institution devoted exclusively to parasitological research in the Czech Republic. The main research areas encompass protistology, helminthology, and medical entomology, including studies on the causative agents of the infections transmitted by arthropods. Investigations into fish parasites, life-cycles of helminths, parasitic arthropods as vectors of diseases, molecular biology of parasitic protists, phylogeny of parasites and molecular ecology of parasites have remained long-term research priorities of research of the Institute.
The mission of the Institute of Parasitology is primarily research in parasitology, with the aim to obtain and present new information about the biology of causative agents of parasitic diseases of men and animals. The main areas representing the priorities of the Institute’s research are listed below:
1. Parasites of fish
- Morphology, molecular taxonomy, and pathogenicity of amphizoic amoebae
- Life-cycles, ultrastructure and phylogeny of myxosporeans and microsporidia
- Diversity, systematics, biology and phylogeny of helminth parasites related to aquatic environment, with special attention to helminths of fishes in temperate and tropical regions
2. Parasitic protists of men and animals with special reference to opportunistic parasites
- Human parasites with special attention to emerging opportunistic parasites
- Biology, pathogenicity and phylogenetic relationships of coccidia
- Immune response against microsporidia
3. Molecular biology of parasitic protists and nematodes
- Functional genomics of the mitochondrion of the flagellate Trypanosoma brucei
- Population structure of the causative agents of leishmaniosis in Europe
- Secondary endosymbiosis and evolution of complex plastids
- Genetic analysis of the nuclear receptor function in the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans
4. Biology of disease vectors: molecular interactions involved in pathogen transmission
- Immunology of host-vector interactions with respect to pathogen transmission
- Molecular and cellular factors of pathogen transmission in ticks
- Molecular ecology of Lyme borreliosis and tick-borne encephalitis with respect to the antigenic structures of the causative agents and protein-carbohydrate interactions
- Tick chemical communication
5. Molecular taxonomy and phylogeny of parasites
- Phylogeny of parasitic protists, helminths and arthropods, and host-parasite co-evolution
- Parasite distribution and host specificity as the result of coevolutionary and host-switching events
- Molecular phylogeny of the bacteria associated with blood-feeding arthropods
The Institute of Parasitology is the publisher of the international journal Folia Parasitologica, with an impact factor 1.533 (2010). It is issued quarterly and publishes contributions from all branches of parasitology.
Facilities and capabilities
Laboratories of the Institue of Parasitology are well equipped with instruments to perform a vast array of methods such as scanning and transmission electron microscopy, histopathology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and tissue and cell cultures. Its facilities make it possible to study host-parasite interactions at the organismal, cellular and molecular levels. The Institute of Parasitology's research activities are augmented by equipment available in other research institutes within the Biology Centre of the Academy of Sciences in České Budějovice. The Institute also possesses an Animal Facility accredited for experiments with laboratory animals as well as the most comprehensive parasitological library in the Czech Republic. It has been approved for work with genetically modified organisms.
The Institute of Parasitology maintains cultures of parasitic protists, cell lines, and laboratory colonies of ticks and mosquitoes. Extensive collections of type and voucher materials (about 3000 species of protists, helminths and parasitic arthropods) are also deposited at the Institute of Parasitology.
The Institute of Parasitology has a close relationship with the Faculty of Science of the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice. The practical research experience and theses of undergraduate and graduate students of the Faculty of Science are facilitated by an established research program of the Institute. In order to facilitate scientific cooperation and participation of students in research performed at the Institute the Laboratory of Molecular Biology of Vectors and Pathogens (head L. Grubhoffer)has been established jointly with the University of South Bohemia.
The Institute of Parasitology is also involved in undergraduate and graduate teaching at Charles University in Prague, Masaryk University in Brno, and Veterinary and Pharmaceutical University in Brno and it has also been licensed for doctoral studies in parasitology for the Faculty of Science, Charles University in Prague. The staff of the Institute engage in teaching activities in parasitology, molecular and cellular biology, and zoology in both master and PhD programs at the University of South Bohemia.
The Institute of Parasitology offers opportunities for postdoctoral and residency training in parasitology. The staff of the Institute organises international training courses and its researchers participate as lecturers in parasitology courses abroad.
An integral part of activities of the Institute of Parasitology is the organisation of scientific events such as international symposia and workshops. Scientists of the Institute provide expert opinions to national and international agencies, professional societies, and scientific granting agencies. Researchers of the Institute also serve as members of editorial and advisory boards of international journals in addition to being referees of submitted articles.
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