I am a post-doctoral fellow with the Merck KGaA Global Health Institute, performing research in the Yoshino and Zamanian labs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I study vector-borne helminths like Schistosoma mansoni and Brugia malayi, both of which cause neglected tropical diseases. I received my PhD in Genetics and Genomics from Iowa State University, where I was advised by Tim Day.
PhD in Genetics and Genomics, 2017
Iowa State University
BSc in Molecular Biology, 2013
William Jewell College
Sensation of a parasite’s environment is absolutely critical to successful transmission and continuation of the parasite’s life cycle. Until now, the molecular receptors that govern these events in parasitic nematodes were largely unknown. We identified chemoreceptive GPCRs and ion channels involved in signal transduction in all of the major parasitic nematodes with available reference genomes. Furthermore, we show for the first time the function of these receptors in chemosensory and thermosensory processess in the filarial nematodes that cause lymphatic filariasis, a major neglected tropical disease that afflicts over 60 million people.
Parasitic nematodes (roundworms) and platyhelminths (flatworms) cause debilitating chronic infections of humans and animals, decimate crop production and are a major impediment to socioeconomic development. Here we report the broadest comparative study to date of the genomes of parasitic and non-parasitic worms, involving 81. We have identified gene family births and hundreds of expanded gene families at key nodes in the phylogeny that are relevant to parasitism. Examples include gene families that modulate host immune responses, enable parasite migration though host tissues or allow the parasite to feed. We reveal extensive lineage-specific differences in core metabolism and protein families historically targeted for drug development. From an in silico screen, we have identified and prioritised new potential drug targets and compounds for testing. This comparative genomics resource provides a much needed boost for the research community to understand and combat parasitic worms.