Professor Stephen Ward

Walter Myers Professor of Parasitology

Steve has over 30 years’ experience in drug discovery, drug development and tropical pharmacology. After a year working as a Senior Research Fellow at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, Steve returned to Liverpool begin his UK academic career.  Working initially as a Lecturer in Tropical Pharmacology at LSTM, Steve then held a number of senior research and teaching positions at the University of Liverpool before being awarded a Personal Chair in 1999. Steve returned to LSTM as Walter Myers Professor of Parasitology in 2000 and was LSTM’s Deputy Director from 2004 to October 2023.

Steve is also currently Head of Drug Discovery at LSTM with a portfolio of antimalarial, anti-TB and antihelminthic and anti-bacterial drugs. He has delivered two molecules to full international registration, three molecules into human trials and a further four molecules through a completed full preclinical development. He had a key role in the Gates funded AWOL product discovery initiative and collaborates with Eisai Pharma, Japan supported through the GHIT initiative to develop new macrofilaricide drugs. His over-riding philosophy has always been to exploit the best science to deliver products that can improve the health of vulnerable populations.

During his career, Steve has established a significant number of international collaborative links with key organisations, including the Kenyan Medical Research Institute, Wellcome Trust Research Laboratories Kenya, Centre for Drug Research, University Sains Malaysia, Mahidol University Thailand, Thammassat University Thailand, Guangdong University of Technology China, GSK DDW Madrid, Astra Zeneca. He has a role as an external advisor in Translational Science to a number of international organisations including the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and the German Centre for Infection Research (DZIF).

Steve has received recognition for his work with the awards of the Dr Chitavat Sadavongvivad Memorial Medal from Thai Pharmacology Society (2010), Thompson Medal from the Royal Society for Chemistry (2011) and Sornchai Looareesuwan Medal from Mahidol University (2013).

Selected publications

  • Salcedo-Sora JE, Ochong E, Beveridge S, Johnson D, Nzila A, Biagini GA, Stocks PA, O'Neill PM, Krishna S, Bray PG, Ward SA. (2011) The Molecular Basis of Folate Salvage in Plasmodium falciparum: Characterization of two folate transporters. J Biol Chem. 2011 Dec 30;286(52):44659-68. Epub 2011 Oct 13.

    Biagini GA, Fisher N, Shone AE, Mubaraki MA, Srivastava A, Hill A, Antoine T, Warman AJ, Davies J, Pidathala C, Amewu RK, Leung SC, Sharma R, Gibbons P, Hong DW, Pacorel B, Lawrenson AS, Charoensutthivarakul S, Taylor L, Berger O, Mbekeani A, Stocks PA, Nixon GL, Chadwick J, Hemingway J, Delves MJ, Sinden RE, Zeeman AM, Kocken CH, Berry NG, O'Neill PM, Ward SA. (2012) Generation of quinolone antimalarials targeting the Plasmodium falciparum mitochondrial respiratory chain for the treatment and prophylaxis of malaria. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 May 22;109(21):8298-303. Epub 2012 May 7.

    Fisher N, Abd Majid R, Antoine T, Al-Helal M, Warman AJ, Johnson DJ, Lawrenson AS, Ranson H, O'Neill PM, Ward SA, Biagini GA. (2012) Cytochrome b mutation Y268S conferring atovaquone resistance phenotype in malaria parasite results in reduced parasite bc1 catalytic turnover and protein expression. J Biol Chem. 2012 Mar 23;287(13):9731-41. Epub 2012 Jan 26.

    Patzewitz EM, Salcedo-Sora JE, Wong EH, Sethia S, Stocks PA, Maughan SC, Murray JA, Krishna S, Bray PG, Ward SA, Müller S. (2012) Glutathione Transport: A New Role for PfCRT in Chloroquine Resistance. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2012 Dec 20.

    O'Neill PM, Amewu RK, Nixon GL, ElGarah FB, Mungthin M, Chadwick J, Shone AE, Vivas L, Lander H, Barton V, Muangnoicharoen S, Bray PG, Davies J, Park BK, Wittlin S, Brun R, Preschel M, Zhang K and Ward SA (2010). Identification of a 1,2,4,5-tetraoxane antimalarial drug-development candidate (RKA 182) with superior properties to the semisynthetic artemisinins. Angewandte Chemie International Edition 49: 5693-5697.

    Lucumi E, Darling C, Jo H, Napper AD, Chandramohandas R, Fisher N, Shone AE, Jing H, Ward SA, Biagini GA, Degrado WF, Diamond SL and Greenbaum DC (2010). Discovery of potent small molecule inhibitors of multi-drug resistant P. falciparum using a novel miniaturized high-throughput luciferase-based assay. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 54: 3597-3604.

    Barton V, Fisher N, Biagini GA, Ward SA and O'Neill PM (2010). Inhibiting Plasmodium cytochrome bc(1): a complex issue. Current Opinion in Chemical Biology 14: 440-446.

    Barton V, Ward SA, Chadwick J, Hill A and O'Neill PM (2010). Rationale design of biotinylated antimalarial endoperoxide carbon centered radical prodrugs for applications in proteomics. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 53: 4555-4559.

    de Souza JB, Okomo U, Alexander ND, Aziz N, Owens BM, Kaur H, Jasseh M, Muangnoicharoen S, Sumariwalla PF, Warhurst DC, Ward SA, Conway DJ, Ulloa L, Tracey KJ, Foxwell BM, Kaye PM and Walther M (2010). Oral activated charcoal prevents experimental cerebral malaria in mice and in a randomized controlled clinical trial in man did not interfere with the pharmacokinetics of parenteral artesunate. PLOS One 5: e9867.

    Amewu R, Gibbons P, Mukhtar A, Stachulski AV, Ward SA, Hall C, Rimmer K, Davies J, Vivas L, Bacsa J, Mercer AE, Nixon G, Stocks PA and O'Neill PM (2010). Synthesis, in vitro and in vivo antimalarial assessment of sulfide, sulfone and vinyl amide-substituted 1,2,4-trioxanes prepared via thiol-olefin co-oxygenation (TOCO) of allylic alcohols.Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry 8: 2068-2077.

    O'Neill PM, Barton VE and Ward SA (2010). The molecular mechanism of action of artemisinin - the debate continues. Molecules 15: 1705-1721.

    Chadwick J, Jones M, Mercer AE, Stocks PA, Ward SA, Park BK and O'Neill PM (2010). Design, synthesis and antimalarial/ anticancer evaluation of spermidine linked artemisinin conjugates designed to exploit polyamine transporters in Plasmodium falciparum and HL-60 cancer cell lines. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry 18: 2586-2597.

    Fisher N, Warman AJ, Ward SA and Biagini GA (2009). Chapter 17 Type II NADH: quinone oxidoreductases ofPlasmodium falciparum and Mycobacterium tuberculosis kinetic and high-throughput assays. Methods in Enzymology456: 303-320.

    Lian LY, Al-Helal M, Roslaini AM, Fisher N, Bray PG, Ward SA and Biagini GA (2009). Glycerol: an unexpected major metabolite of energy metabolism by the human malaria parasite. Malaria Journal 8: 38.

    O'Neill PM, Shone AE, Stanford D, Nixon G, Asadollahy E, Park BK, Maggs JL, Roberts P, Stocks PA, Biagini G, Bray PG, Davies J, Berry N, Hall C, Rimmer K, Winstanley PA, Hindley S, Bambal RB, Davis CB, Bates M, Gresham SL, Brigandi RA, Gomez-de-Las-Heras FM, Gargallo DV, Parapini S, Vivas L, Lander H, Taramelli D andWard SA (2009). Synthesis, antimalarial activity, and preclinical pharmacology of a novel series of 4'-fluoro and 4'-chloro analogues of amodiaquine. Identification of a suitable "back-up" compound for N-tert-butyl isoquine. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 52: 1828-1844.

    O'Neill PM, Park BK, Shone AE, Maggs JL, Roberts P, Stocks PA, Biagini GA, Bray PG, Gibbons P, Berry N, Winstanley PA, Mukhtar A, Bonar-Law R, Hindley S, Bambal RB, Davis CB, Bates M, Hart TK, Gresham SL, Lawrence RM, Brigandi RA, Gomez-Delas-Heras FM, Gargallo DV and Ward SA (2009). Candidate selection and preclinical evaluation of N-tert-Butyl isoquine (GSK369796), an affordable and effective 4-aminoquinoline antimalarial for the 21st century. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 52: 1408-1415.

    Johnson DJ, Owen A, Plant N, Bray PG and Ward SA (2008). Drug-regulated expression of Plasmodium falciparum P-glycoprotein homologue 1: a putative role for nuclear receptors. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 52:1438-1445.

    Biagini GA, Fisher N, Berry N, Stocks PA, Meunier B, Williams DP, Bonar-Law R, Bray PG, Owen A, O'Neill PM andWard SA (2008). Acridinediones: selective and potent inhibitors of the malaria parasite mitochondrial bc1 complex.Molecular Pharmacology 73: 1347-1355.

    Bell DJ, Nyirongo SK, Mukaka M, Zijlstra EE, Plowe CV, Molyneux ME and Ward SA, Winstanley PA (2008). Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine-based combinations for malaria: a randomised blinded trial to compare efficacy, safety and selection of resistance in Malawi. PLosS One 3: e1578.

    Ellis GL, Amewu R, Hall C, Rimmer K, Ward SA and O'Neill PM (2008). An efficient route into synthetically challenging bridged achiral 1,2,4,5-tetraoxanes with antimalarial activity. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters18: 1720-1724.

    Stocks PA, Bray PG, Barton VE, Al-Helal M, Jones M, Arouja NC, Gibbons P, Ward SA, Hughes RA, Biagini GA, Davies J, Amewu R, Mercer AE, Ellis G and O'Neill PM (2007).  Evidence for a common non-heme chelatable-iron-dependent activation mechanism for semisynthetic and synthetic endoperoxide antimalarial drugs. Angewandte Chemie (International Ed in English) 46: 6278-6283.

    Ward SA, Sevene E, Hastings IM, Nosten F and McGready R (2007). Antimalarial drugs and pregnancy: safety, pharmacokinetics and pharmacovigilence. Lancet Infectious Diseases 7: 136-144.

    Bray PG, Mungthin M, Hastings IM, Biagini GA, Saidu DA, Lakshmanan V, Johnson DJ, Hughes RH, Stocks PL, O'Neill PM, Fidock DA, Warhurst DC and Ward SA (2006). PfCRT and the trans-vacuolar proton electrochemical gradient: regulating the access of chloroquine to ferriprotoporphyrin IX. Molecular Microbiology 62: 238-251.

    Lakshmanan V, Bray PG, Verdier-Pinard D, Johnson DJ, Horrocks P, Alakpa GE, Muhle RA, Hughes RH, Ward SA, Krogstad DJ, Sidhu AB and Fidock DA (2005). A critical role for PfCRT K76T in Plasmodium falciparum verapamil-reversible chloroquine resistance. EMBO Journal 24: 2294-2305.

    Biagini GA, Pasini EM, Hughes R, De Koning HP, Vial HJ, O'Neill PM, Ward SA and Bray PG (2004). Characterisation of the choline carrier of Plasmodium falciparum: a route for the selective delivery of novel antimalarial drugs. Blood 104: 3372-3377.

    O' Neill PM, Stocks PA, Pugh MD Araujo NC, Korshin EE, Bickley JF, Ward SA, Bray PG, Pasini E, Davies J, Verissimo E and Bachi MD (2004). Design and synthesis of endoperoxide antimalarial pro-drug models: prototypes for selective intraparasitic generation of cysteine protease inhibitors and other parasitocidal species: Angewandte Chemie (International Ed in English) 43: 4193-4197.

    Johnson DJ, Fidock DA, Mungthin M, Lakshmanan V, Sidhu ABS, Bray PG and Ward SA (2004). Evidence for a central role for PfCRT in conferring Plasmodium falciparum resistance to diverse antimalarial agents. Molecular Cell15: 867-877.

    Eckstein-Ludwig U, Webb RJ, van Goethem IDA, East JM, Lee AG, Kimura M, O'Neill PM, Bray PG, Ward SA and Krishna S (2003). Artemisinins target the SERCA of Plasmodium falciparumNature 424: 957-961.