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School of Environment and Life Sciences

Dr Darren Brooks

Lecturer in Molecular Bioscience; Programme Leader for Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Science


Upon completion of my PhD thesis, I spent four years as a post-doctoral researcher (Mottram/Coombs group) at the Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology, University of Glasgow, studying Leishmania mexicana cysteine proteases.  This was followed by a further post-doctoral position at the University of Leeds (Elwyn Isaac’s group) studying metalloproteases in the model free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.  I joined the University of Salford in 2003 as a lecturer and my fascination with parasites and proteases continues. 

I am also passionate about internationalisation of education.  To this end, I lead undergraduate exchange programme links (Biology and Biochemistry) with the University of Toledo, Ohio.  I am also the ELS International Tutor.


I am programme leader for the BSc (Hons) programmes in Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Science. At undergraduate level, I lead the module ‘Fundamentals of Biochemistry.’ I also contribute teaching to other modules that are core to degrees in Biochemistry, Biomedical Science, Biology and Zoology. At postgradaute level, I contribute to teaching on the MSc Molecular Parasitology and Vector Biology programme. 

Research Interests

One area of research interest is parasite/nematode proteases.  Genome sequencing efforts have shown that organisms not only have large and diverse families of proteases but interestingly, they also contain many ‘non-peptidase’ homologues.  In collaboration with Elwyn Isaac (University of Leeds) we have shown that a non-peptidase member of the angiotensin-converting enzyme family (acn-1) is essential for moulting in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

My other area of interest is focussed on parasite infections in wildlife; in particular, threatened species of wildlife.  For example, bats are host to a multitude of infectious agents, including viruses that pose a zoonotic threat, and parasites.  We have recently shown that pipistrelle bats are commonly infected with digenean trematodes; the life-cycle details of many of the species are not fully described. In addition, male pipistrelles showed a significantly more aggregated helminth distribution and lower parasite abundance than female bats.  The ecology of these parasite species and how they interact with other co-infections carried by bats remains to be elucidated.

Qualifications and Memberships

BSc (Hons) Biochemistry, University of Leeds, 1990

PhD Molecular Parasitology, U.M.I.S.T., 1995

PgCert in H.E. Practice and Research, University of Salford, 2006

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2017)


  • Brooks, D.R. (1995) ‘Isolation and characterisation of the gene encoding dihydropteroate synthetase (DHPS) from the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.’ Ph.D thesis, U.M.I.S.T.   
  • Brooks, D.R., Denise, H., Westrop, G.D., Coombs, G.H. & Mottram, J.C. (2001) The stage-regulated expression of Leishmania mexicana CPB cysteine proteases is mediated by an intercistronic sequence element. J.  Biol. Chem. 276, 47061-47069.
  • Brooks,D.R., Appleford, P.J., Murray, L. & Isaac, R.E. (2003)  An essential role in moulting and morphogenesis of Caenorhabditis elegans for ACN-1, a novel member of the angiotensin-converting enzyme family that lacks a metallopeptidase active site. J. Biol. Chem. 278, 52340-52346.
  • Brooks, D.R., Hooper, N.M. & Isaac R.E. (2003) The Caenorhabditis elegans orthologue of mammalian puromycin-sensitive aminopeptidase has roles in embryogenesis and reproduction.  J. Biol.Chem.278, 42795-42801.
  • Fortin, S.M., Marshall, S.L., Jaeger, E.C., Greene, P.E., Brady, L.K., Isaac, R.E., Schrandt, J.C., Brooks, D.R. & Lyczak, R. (2010)  The PAM-1 aminopeptidase regulates centrosome positioning to ensure anterior-posterior axis specification in one-cell C. elegans embryos. Dev. Biol. 344, 992-1000.
  • Lord, J.S., Parker, S., Parker, F. & Brooks, D.R. (2012) Gastrointestinal helminths of pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pipistrellus/Pipistrellus pygmaeus) (Chiroptera: Vespertilionidae) of England. Parasitology 139, 366-374.