RESEARCH INTERESTS


 

My research interests include vector-borne zoonoses and parasitic diseases.  I am particularly interested in the human-animal interface in these diseases and understanding the role wildlife has in human tropical infectious diseases.

For the past 4 years, I have studied the sylvatic cylce of Trypanosoma cruzi. My dissertation research was developed to characterize North American isolates of the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, etiologic agent of Chagas disease.  An estimated 10-12 million people are infected in the Americas, predominantly in Central and South America.  In addition to infecting humans, T. cruzi can infect a number of reservoir hosts, including raccoons and virginia opossums in the United States.  The movement of the parasite in this sylvatic cycle is not well-understood and is important for understanding human and domestic animal infections.  The objective of my project was to distinguish the biological and molecular characteristics and infection dynamics of Type I and Type II strains of T. cruzi.

My post-doctoral research focuses on the genotypes of T. cruzi present in a Chagas endemic region of northern Peru. The sylvatic cycle in this area is not well known, and differences in animal hosts and their roles in T. cruzi exposure in human infections have not been previously investigated. Additionally, differences in disease manifestations are suggested between rural, North Peru and urban, South Peru (particularly Arequipa). The goal of my research efforts is to identify molecular differences in sylvatic isolates of T. cruzi and human cases that may account for differences in clinical disease.

I currently work as a microbiologist for the CDC studying molecular epidemiology of waterborne enteric diseases, but I still have a strong interest in vector-borne zoonotics. Particularly, my research goals focus on neglected tropical diseases, and I welcome collaborations on all parasitic NTDs.