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Professor Graham Coombs

Emeritus Professor

Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

Personal statement

Professor Coombs joined the University of Strathclyde in October 2006 to become Head of the new Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences and Head of the School of Pharmacy. He also became Professor of Biochemical Parasitology. His current research focuses on three unicellular parasitic protozoa, Leishmania, the causative agent of leishmaniasis, Plasmodium falciparum, the most pernicious causative agent of human malaria, and Trichomonas, a very common sexually transmitted pathogen. These diseases cause widespread suffering and current treatment is unsatisfactory. The long term aim of his work is to underpin the development of novel therapies, either drugs or vaccines, which exploit unique biochemical aspects of the parasites.

Professor Coombs was trained as a biochemist and carried out postgraduate and postdoctoral research on the mode of action of antiparasite drugs before moving to Glasgow in 1974 to establish his own research group specialising in biochemical parasitology. Since then he has been active in elucidating biochemical adaptations of a range of parasitic protozoa, including pioneering studies on Leishmania amastigotes and peptidases of trypanosomatids. His research output is reflected in the publication of more than 200 original papers, five books, several patents, the award of the Seymour H. Hunter prize by the Society of Protozoologists in 1986, and election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1993. His group has extensive experience in a range of biochemical and parasitological methods and a keen interest in identification and characterisation of the biological function of parasite-specific proteins and exploiting these proteins as vaccines, drug targets and diagnostics.


Metabolomic profiling and stable isotope labelling of Trichomonas vaginalis and Tritrichomonas foetus reveal major differences in amino acid metabolism including the production of 2-hydroxyisocaproic acid, cystathionine and S-methylcysteine
Westrop Gareth D., Wang Lijie, Blackburn Gavin J., Zhang Tong, Zheng Liang, Watson David G., Coombs Graham H.
PLoS ONE Vol 12, (2017)
Crystal structure and activity studies of the C11 cysteine peptidase from parabacteroides merdae in the human gut microbiome
McLuskey Karen, Grewal Jaspreet S., Das Debanu, Godzik Adam, Lesley Scott A., Deacon Ashley M., Coombs Graham H., Elsliger Marc-André, Wilson Ian A., Mottram Jeremy C.
Journal of Biological Chemistry Vol 291, pp. 9482-9491, (2016)
PNT1 is a C11 cysteine peptidase essential for replication of the trypanosome kinetoplast
Grewal Jaspreet S., McLuskey Karen, Das Debanu, Myburgh Elmarie, Wilkes Jonathan, Brown Elaine, Lemgruber Leandro, Gould Matthew K., Burchmore Richard J., Coombs Graham H., Schnaufer Achim, Mottram Jeremy C.
Journal of Biological Chemistry Vol 291, pp. 9492-9500, (2016)
In vitro selection of miltefosine resistance in promastigotes of Leishmania donovani from Nepal : genomic and metabolomic characterization
Shaw C. D., Lonchamp J., Downing T., Imamura H., Freeman T. M., Cotton J. A., Sanders M., Blackburn G., Dujardin J. C., Rijal S., Khanal B., Illingworth C. J. R., Coombs G. H., Carter K. C.
Molecular Microbiology Vol 99, pp. 1134-1148, (2016)
Metabolomic analyses of Leishmania reveal multiple species differences and large differences in amino acid metabolism
Westrop Gareth D, Williams Roderick A M, Wang Lijie, Zhang Tong, Watson David G, Silva Ana Marta, Coombs Graham H
PLoS ONE Vol 10, (2015)
Evaluation of mobile phase characteristics on three zwitterionic columns in hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography mode for liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry based untargeted metabolite profiling of Leishmania parasites
Zhang Rong, Watson David G., Wang Lijie, Westrop Gareth D., Coombs Graham H., Zhang Tong
Journal of Chromatography A Vol 1362, pp. 168–179, (2014)

more publications

Professional activities

British Society for Parasitology
British Society for Parasitology
British Society for Parasitology
British Society for Parasitology
Gordon Conference on Autophagy in Stress, Development and Disease , USA
FEMS Microbiological reviews
Editorial board member

more professional activities


The provision of clinical input by pharmacist to pharmacy educational programmes to support child and adolescent psychiatry Yorkhill Hospital
Winn, Philip (Principal Investigator) Coombs, Graham (Co-investigator)
Period 01-Jan-2008 - 31-Dec-2016
KALADRUG-R New tools for monitoring drug resistance and treatment response in visceral leishmaniasis in the Indian subcontinent (FP7 Health)
Coombs, Graham (Principal Investigator) Carter, Katharine (Co-investigator)
Period 01-Nov-2008 - 30-Apr-2013
Development of Pharmaceutical Services in NHS and evaluation of new National pre-registration Pharmacist Scheme (PRPS)
Coombs, Graham (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2007 - 30-Sep-2013
Pharmaceutical Chair in Pharmacy Practice
Coombs, Graham (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Apr-2007 - 31-Mar-2012
Analysing the Roles Of Peptides in Leishmania Infectivity and Pathogeni
Coombs, Graham (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2007 - 31-May-2013
SULSA: Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance
Coombs, Graham (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Aug-2007 - 31-Jul-2014

more projects


Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences
Hamnett Wing

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