Course Directors:

burleighBarbara Burleigh, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health
Barbara Burleigh, Ph.D. is a Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Her work on Trypanosoma cruzi, the protozoan parasite that causes human Chagas disease, addresses fundamental questions regarding the mechanistic basis of host cell colonization by this obligate intracellular pathogen with a focus on the permissive roles of host cell signaling and metabolism in this process. Barbara has been involved in the BoP course since 2000 as an invited lecturer and as an experimental module head. This is her second year as co-director for the BoP course.

Flaminia CatterucciaFlaminia Catteruccia, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health
Flaminia Catteruccia is Professor at the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases in the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. She has made fundamental contributions to the field of mosquito research in the area of mating behavior and reproductive biology in the Anopheles mosquitoes that vector human malaria. She is now studying the molecular and physiological interactions between the Anopheles vector and the Plasmodium malaria parasite both in the laboratory and in field settings. She has also opened up a new avenue of study in terms of within-host symbiotic interactions that affect malaria transmission. Her research plan integrates basic molecular biology investigations with high impact translational studies. She has been a module director at BoP for the past 5 years and is one of the current course directors.

frischknechtFreddy Frischknecht, Heidelberg University
Freddy Frischknecht is a Professor of Integrative Parasitology at the Medical School of Heidelberg University. His group works on the insect stages of Plasmodium with a focus on the biology of sporozoites, the highly motile forms of the malaria parasite transmitted by mosquitoes. He is using a range of imaging, genetic and biophysical techniques to address fundamental questions regarding cell migration and the biology of central proteins such as actin or tubulin as well as parasite specific proteins. He also develops new strategies for experimental vaccinations. Freddy has been a participant in BoP 2001 as a ‘young’ postdoc and been involved in BoP as an experimental module head since 2015. This is his first year as co-director for the BoP course.

2021 Module Directors:

alvaro_cropÁlvaro Acosta Serrano, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Álvaro Acosta Serrano obtained his PhD in Molecular Parasitology from the Federal University of São Paulo. He was a Post-doctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and then a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at the University of Dundee and University of Glasgow. In 2008 he joined the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, where he is currently a Senior Lecturer and Principal Investigator in the Department of Vector Biology. Research in his lab focuses on fundamental aspects of the biology of kinetoplastid parasites and their vectors (mainly using African trypanosomes and tsetse flies), and on developing molecular tools to control and prevent the transmission of vector-borne diseases.

beiting_headshotDaniel Beiting, University of Pennsylvania
Daniel Beiting, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Pathobiology and the Technical Director of the Center for Host-Microbial Interactions (CHMI) at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. His lab uses cutting-edge genomic approaches and bioinformatics to study how the microbiome influences and is influenced by infection. Through his role at CHMI, he helps labs leverage and learn genomic approaches to advance their work. Dan is interested in open-source tools for data science, and in using these tools to teach bioinformatics. He leads an in-person and online course that teaches students how to use the R programming environment to interrogate gene expression data (DIYtranscriptomics). Additionally, Dan leads the MicrobiomeDB project, a web-based systems biology platform that integrates large, publicly-available microbiome studies and provides users with tools for analyzing and visualizng their own data.

Vernon CarruthersVernon Carruthers, University of Michigan
Intracellular parasites benefit from the rich resources available inside an infected cell, but they also face the challenges of invading such cells, developing conduits to mine nutrients, and departing their niche on cue. Some intracellular parasites have also mastered the art of persistence for transmission or reemergence later in infection. After helping to define extracellular survival tactics of African trypanosomes during graduate (Western University, with the infamous Barbara Burleigh) and postdoctoral studies (Rockefeller University), I became fascinated by the distinctive intracellular lifestyles of apicomplexan parasites including Toxoplasma gondii. As a Research Associate at Washington University I identified a calcium dependent signaling pathway dictates Toxoplasma invasion. Since then our work at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan has helped define how Toxoplasma uses adhesive proteins to actively invade target cells and showed that its hybrid exo-endocytic system supports both protein secretion and ingestion of host derived material. We also identified the basis for Toxoplasma cytolytic egress from infected cells, defined the parasite’s use of autophagy as a survival strategy during persistence, and we are developing inhibitors targeting a parasite lysosomal protease to interrupt chronic infection. Understanding these processes more deeply will better define the elaborate mechanisms intracellular parasite use to infect their hosts.

omar-harbOmar S. Harb, University of Pennsylvania

Omar Harb, PhD is the Director of Scientific Outreach and Education at the Eukaryotic Pathogen, Vector and Host Informatic Resources (VEuPathDB.org). His doctoral work in the laboratory of Dr. Yousef Abu Kwaik centered around understanding how the opportunistic intracellular pathogen, Legionella pneumophila, infects diverse host cells including human macrophages and amoeba. For his post-doctoral work, Omar worked with David Roos on the cell biology of Toxoplasma and Plasmodium. His current work focuses on the integration of data into VEuPathDB and enabling scientists to effectively mine diverse datatypes using an intuitive user-friendly interface. Additionally, Omar manages all educational aspects of the project running and teaching at genomics workshops and developing webinars and other educational resources. Building on his interest in education and the use of science as a borderless language, in 2016 Omar co-founded of the Middle East Biology of Parasitism course (MeBOP).

kamhawi_pictureShaden Kamhawi, National Institutes of Health
Dr. Kamhawi is currently a Core Associate Scientist at the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector research at NIAID, NIH. She is interested in exploring various facets of disease vectors focusing on sand flies that transmit Leishmania parasites by bite. Some of her research interests and relevant publications include: the development of Leishmania in the gut of vector sand flies (Kamhawi et al, Cell, 2004; Kelly et al., mBio, 2016; Serafim, et al., Nat Microbiology, 2018); establishment of the first models of pathogenesis following transmission of Leishmania to an experimental animal (Kamhawi, et al, Science, 2000; Peters, et al, Science 2008; Aslan, et al, J Infect Dis, 2016); characterizing a number of sand fly-derived factors that influence the host immune response at the site of the sand fly bite (Atayde et al, Cell reports, 2015; Dey et al., Host Cell & Microbe, 2018); establishing the nature of the immune response to sand fly salivary proteins and exploring their potential as Leishmania vaccines (Gomes et al., PNAS, 2008; Oliveira et al., PLOS NTD, 2008; Gomes et al., J Invest Dermatol, 2012; Oliveira et al, Sci Transl Med, 2015).

lodoen_photoMelissa Lodoen, University of California, Irvine
A major goal of Dr. Lodoen’s research program is to define the cellular and molecular pathways that activate the innate immune response during infection. In particular, her research examines the role of monocytes and macrophages in host defense and inflammation during infection with Toxoplasma gondii. One area of research focuses on identifying the mechanisms by which primary human monocytes and macrophages produce and regulate IL-1 during T. gondii infection. In a second area of research, her lab is investigating the role of monocytes in pathogen dissemination and host defense at the blood-brain barrier during T. gondii infection of the CNS.

sean_priggeSean Prigge, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
I was trained as a structural biologist studying the atomic level interactions that allow enzymes to make their products. After a four year stint at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, I became fascinated with the unusual biology of malaria parasites and began to ask questions about the enzymes and metabolic pathways in these organisms. I am particularly interested in aspects of parasite metabolism that rely on nutrients from the host. In my laboratory, we study these nutrients, how they are acquired, how they are used, and whether they are essential for the growth of blood stage or liver stage malaria parasites. We approach these questions with a combination of cell biology, genetic, biophysical and biochemical techniques. Ultimately, we want to understand how to interfere with these vulnerable aspects of parasite metabolism.

ralston_picKaty Ralston, University of California, Davis
Katy Ralston is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Davis. Her laboratory studies interactions between Entamoeba histolytica and the human host, with a focus on trogocytosis, the process by which E. histolytica nibbles and kills human cells. Her lab is studying the mechanism underlying this process and how it might contribute to the pathogenesis of amoebiasis. Additionally, trogocytosis is potentially a fundamental form of eukaryotic cell-cell interactions, so studies in E. histolytica might be broadly applicable to basic biology as well as disease. Katy joined the UC Davis faculty in 2014, after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Virginia and a PhD at the University of California, Los Angeles. Katy’s PhD work focused on Trypanosoma brucei and she participated in BoP as a student in 2006.

jayne-raperJayne Raper, Hunter College
Dr. Raper is a principle investigator in the Department of Biological Sciences in Hunter College at the City University of New York. She is currently managing a program project (NSF/Gates) to generate transgenic cows that will be resistant to all forms of African trypanosomes, a eukaryotic single celled parasite. This will allow the small holder farmer to raise cattle in the tsetse fly belt in Sub-Saharan Africa, and potentially eliminate a reservoir of human-infective parasites. Variants of the transgene, apolipoprotien L, are prevalent in African-Americans that are linked to chronic kidney disease. Pore formation by apolipoprotein L1 in plasma membranes is key to the mechanism of killing the African parasites as well as driving kidney disease. She joined the CUNY faculty in 2011. Prior to joining CUNY she was an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology at New York University School of Medicine where she focused on the host-parasite interaction of African trypanosomes and primates. She also taught medical and graduate student courses and served on many NYU committees throughout her eighteen years at NYU. Dr. Raper conducted her postdoctoral research at the ICP, Brussels, Belgium and at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine on African trypanosomes. Dr. Raper earned her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Cambridge and her BSc degree in Biochemistry and Genetics from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, England.