We study cellular signaling and the regulation of gene expression in a fascinating protozoan parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasma causes congenital birth defects as well as opportunistic infection in HIV/AIDS, cancer chemotherapy, and heart transplant patients. There is also emerging evidence that this parasitic infection may be linked to neurological disorders, such as schizophrenia and behavior modification. While the acute stage of toxoplasmosis can be treated, the ability of the parasite to convert into latent tissue cysts prevents eradication of the infection from the patient. Unfortunately, if immunity wanes, the patient can relapse and suffer additional episodes of life-threatening acute infection. Additionally, Toxoplasma is a serious threat to some wildlife and livestock.

We hypothesize that the proteins controlling parasite gene expression at epigenetic, transcriptional, and translational levels may represent novel drug targets to fight toxoplasmosis and other infectious diseases, including malaria.

Expertise: Pharmacology & Toxicology


Past Affiliations
Pharmacology, Toxicology
PhD, University of Pennsylvania, Molecular and Cell Biology, 1997
MS, University of Pennsylvania, Immunology , 1994
BS, Frostburg State University, Biology , 1992