Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


Roberto Docampo

Blurred image of the arch used as background for stylistic purposes.
Distinguished Research Professor and GRA Eminent Scholar

The Docampo Laboratory has a long-term interest in the chemotherapy of parasitic diseases. Early work on free radical metabolism led to the findings that antifungal azoles are effective agents against Trypanosoma cruzi, and that the mode of action and toxicity of the nitro compounds currently used against these parasites involved free radical intermediates. The lab interest shifted in the early 1990's to the study of calcium homeostasis in parasitic protists. These studies led to the discovery of the acidocalcisomes, acidic organelles rich in calcium and phosphorus that are conserved from bacteria to man (see figure) ( For the last few years, the lab has focused on the functions of these organelles in a variety of cells, including trypanosomatids, malaria parasites, Chlamydomonas, Dictyostelium, bacteria, human platelets, and insect, chicken, and sea urchin eggs.

The Docampo lab also found that acidocalcisomes are rich in pyrophosphate and short- and long-chain polyphosphate and that polyphosphate has a variety of novel functions in eukaryotes, from an osmoregulatory function in trypanosomes to a potent procoagulant and antifibrinolytic action in human blood ( The discovery of high levels of pyrophosphate in the acidocalcisomes also led to the use of pyrophosphate analogs, currently used in the treatment of osteoporosis and other bone diseases (bisphosphonates), as potential chemotherapeutic agents against parasitic protists. Some of these bisphosphonates have been shown to produce radical cures in animal models of leishmaniasis (

More recently, the Docampo lab has investigated the role of another organelle, the contractile vacuole complex, in osmoregulation in trypanosomes. These studies can reveal targets for trypanocidal drugs and have a variety of therapeutic implications. The lab strategy is to search for metabolic pathways in parasites that may be essential for their survival but may not find an equivalent counterpart in the host. Thus, one could look for specific inhibitors of such metabolic activities as possible means of controlling the parasites without damaging the hosts.

Research Interests:

Metabolic pathways of trypanosomatids and malaria parasites

  • Gomaa, F., Beaudoin, D.J., Alzan, H., Girguis, P.R., Docampo, R., and Edgcomb, V.P. (2022) CRISPR/Cas9-induced disruption of Bodo saltans paraflagellar rod-2 gene reveals its importance for cell survival. Environ Microbiol. 24 (7), 3051-3062.
  • Docampo, R., and Huang, G. (2022) New insights into the role of acidocalcisomes in trypanosomatids. J. Eukaryot. Microbiol. 69 (6), e12899.
  • Bertolini, M., and Docampo, R. (2022) MICU1 and MICU2 potentiation of Ca2+ uptake by the mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter of Trypanosoma cruzi and its inhibition by Mg2+. Cell Calcium 107, 102654.  
  • Mantilla, B.S., do Amaral, L., Jessen, H., and Docampo, R. (2021) The inositol pyrophosphate biosynthetic pathway in Trypanosoma cruzi. ACS Chem. Biol. 16, 283-292.
  • Ramakrishnan, S. Unger, L.M., Baptista, R.P., Cruz-Bustos, T., and Docampo, R. (2021) Deletion of a Golgi protein in Trypanosoma cruzi reveals a critical role for Mn2+ in protein glycosylation needed for host cell invasion and intracellular replication. PLoS Path. 17, e1009399.
  • Negreiros, R., Lander, N., Chiurillo, M.A., Vercesi, A.E., and Docampo, R. (2021) Mitochondrial pyruvate carrier subunits are essential for pyruvate-driven respiration, infectivity, and intracellular replication of Trypanosoma cruzi. mBio 12:e00540-21.
  • Chiurillo, M.A., Jensen, B.C., and Docampo, R. (2021) Drug target validation of the protein kinase AEK1, essential for proliferation, host cell invasion, and intracellular replication of the human pathogen Trypanosoma cruzi. Microbiol. Spectrum. 9, e0073821.
  • Docampo, R. and Moreno, S.N. (2021) Calcium signaling in intracellular protist parasites. Curr. Opin. Microbiol. 64, 33-40.
  • Mantilla, B.S., Azevedo, C., Denny, P.W., Saiardi, A., and Docampo, R. (2021) The histidine ammonia lyase of Trypanosoma cruzi is involved in acidocalcisome alkalinization and is essential for survival under starvation stress. mBio 12, e198121-21.




Other Affiliations:

Docampo Lab Page (new link:



Other Affiliations:
Articles Featuring Roberto Docampo

Marine protists are a highly diverse collection of species, and the inability to genetically modify a large majority of them has been a major hurdle to their study. Dr.

Support us

We appreciate your financial support. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. Click here to learn more about giving.

Every dollar given has a direct impact upon our students and faculty.

Got More Questions?

Undergraduate Inquiries:

Registration and Credit

AP Credit, Section Changes, Overrides,

Graduate Inquiries:

Contact Us!

Associate Head: 

Dr. Cordula Schulz, 706-542-3515

Main office phone: 706-542-3310

Fax: 706-542-4271

Head of the Department: Dr. Dennis Kyle