2011 Fellows

Dr. Yang Chen

Yang ChenYang Chen, Ph.D., is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch. He got his Ph.D. in Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai, China. His Ph.D. research is focused on the innate immunity in Anopheles gambiae, the malaria-transmitting vector in Africa. After five-year research in insect innate immunity, he expanded his interest to pathogen interactions with their mammalian hosts. His current project is about mammalian host responses to Leishmania parasites. In particular, he is trying to define the molecular basis of protective immunity triggered by Leishmania braziliensis infection. L. braziliensis can cause self-healing lesions in nearly all mouse strains and that pre-infection with this parasite can protect mice against non-healing infections caused by other Leishmania species. Although L. braziliensis infection strongly activates DC and CD4+ T cells, it is crucial to further define the protective antigens and their vaccine potential.

Chris Eickhoff

Chris Eickhoff is currently the Research Laboratory Supervisor for the Division of Immunobiology, Department of Internal Medicine at Saint Louis University.  Chris graduated from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in 1994 receiving a B.S. degree in Biology with a specialization in Genetic Engineering.  He is a broadly trained researcher who has worked in the field of Trypanosoma cruzi vaccine development for over 13 years.  Prior to this, Chris was involved in HIV-1 and influenza human vaccine clinical trials.  His current work focuses on the development of vaccines designed to protect against mucosally invasive, intracellular replicating pathogens, which include T. cruzi, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and influenza.

*Generation of Novel Chagas Vaccines: Evolving Studies/Work in Progress (2011 ICIW Conference Presentation)

Robin Welsh

Robin WelshRobin Welsh, B.A., is in her last year of the Smith College M.S. program.  Upon completion of her Master’s, Robin plans to continue her studies in the area of neglected tropical diseases through an MPH/Ph.D. program.  Her ultimate goal is to pursue a career in the area of public health as a research scientist.  Robin’s current research focuses on characterizing gene expression of the third larval (L3) or infectious stage of the filarial nematode Brugia malayi. This filarial parasite is one of the three causative agents of lymphatic filariasis or Elephantiasis, which afflicts over 120 million individuals worldwide.  Previously, she has worked on elucidating genes involved in circadian rhythms within B. malayi.

*Hunting for a Vaccine: Immunoinformatics and the Filarial Parasite Brugia malayi (2011 ICIW Conference Presentation)

Melissa Torres

Melissa TorresMelissa Torres will graduate from Smith College in January 2011 with a B.S. in biology.  Upon completing her honorable service in the United States Marine Corps, Melissa enrolled at Smith College as an Ada Comstock Scholar.  While at Smith pursuing a degree in biology, Melissa focused her independent studies working on organic chemistry synthesis research.  This research was centered on the synthesis of a non-Gassman type Diels-Alder dienophile stabilized by a cobalt-alkyne complex.  Her work was presented at the 240th American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition in August 2010.  Concurrently, Melissa also began research work within the molecular parasitology lab of Dr. Steven A. Williams.  Her current investigations include examination of both protein expression and micro RNAs within the Brugia malayi parasite, one of three causative agents for lymphatic filariasis.

Dr. Sibiry Samake

Sibiry SamakeSibiry Samake, Pharm.D., is a junior scientist at the Leishmaniasis Sand Fly Laboratory,  NIHNIAID, University of Bamako International Center for Excellence in Research (ICER-Mali), Bamako, Mali. After his graduation in 2006, Dr Samake became responsible for molecular diagnosis of leishmania parasites. In 2008, Dr. Samake was visiting scientist at the NIAID Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research (LMVR), Rockville, MD, where he learned molecular techniques for making DNA library for sand flies. Sibiry has extensive experience in multidisciplinary research working with epidemiologist, dermatologists, and entomologists. Sibiry current research involves sand fly infectivity and human immune response to sand fly salivary protein for the development of a vaccine again leishmaniasis in collaboration with LMVR of the NIH.

Dr. Marsia Gustiananda

Marsia GustianandaMarsia Gustiananda is a researcher at the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology (EIMB) where dedicates her time building a platform of research on T-cell epitope mapping for avian influenza A virus H5N1. Marsia was born in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia.  Initially trained as Analyst Chemistry at vocational senior high school in Bandung, she advanced her chemical knowledge at the Department of Chemistry Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and in her final year of B.Sc. extended it to biochemistry and molecular biology.  Marsia graduated cum laude from ITB in 1996.  Sponsored by the Australian Development Scholarship, Marsia pursued her masters degree at the John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR), Australian National University (ANU), which was later upgraded into a Ph.D. degree that she completed in 2003.  While pursuing her Ph.D., Marsia advanced her biochemical experience, learning peptide (protein science) and mastering biophysical techniques to study prion protein repeat (PrP) peptides.  Publication in major international journals (FEBS Letters and Biophys J) resulted.

Marsia further developed her biochemistry and molecular biology skills in research on yeast mutant resistance to atovaquone when she initially joined EIMB in Jakarta, Indonesia (2003-2004), before joining the Metallo Protein group, Gorlaeus Laboratory, Leiden Institute of Chemistry in Netherlands where she developed a fluorescence-based histamine and cholesterol biosensor (2005-2008).  Marsia later rejoined the EIMB in early 2009.

Marsia was awarded the Australian Endeavour Awards Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Australian Government to undertake a 6 months (Feb-Aug 2010) postdoctoral fellowship at the John Curtin School of Medical Research ANU where she learned computational biology and immunoinformatics.  Marsia has obtained two research grants for her work on mapping T-cell epitopes of influenza: the Small Grant Award from the International Society for Infectious Diseases (Fall 2009) and Science and Technology Research Grant from Indonesia Toray Science Foundation (2010).

Dr. Flavia Bauer Santos

Flavia Bauer dos SantosFlávia graduated in Veterinary Medicine from the University Estadual do Norte Fluminense Darcy Ribeiro (Brazil) where her interest in the study of neglected zoonoses disease began. She has worked in the experimental kennel of the Biochemistry and Biology of Leishmania lab of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro since 2007. During this period, she improved immunological assays for leishmaniasis diagnosis using recombinant peptides. Flávia assessed prophylaxis and immunotherapy in mongrel dogs using DNA vaccine and Leishmune® vaccine. She has two published articles and has one submitted.

Dr. Dirlei Nico

Dirlei NicoDirlei has experience in development of vaccines and saponin adjuvants. She started working at the Biochemistry and Biology of Leishmania lab of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 2004, after getting her degree in Pharmacy. She obtained her MSc in Microbiology. During her Ph.D. studies, Dirlei also worked in the Cintergen Lab of the Federal University of São Paulo and learned techniques of Molecular Biology and Immunology. Having received her Ph.D. in Microbiology from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Dirlei succeeded in the identification of the most immunogenic moiety of Nucleoside Hydrolase of Leishmania (L.) donovani. During this period she worked in several projects related to Leishmaniasis prevention which resulted in six publications and is actually engaged in her Post Doctoral Project developing a synthetic vaccine against leishmaniasis.

Dr. Mario Jiz

Mario JizMario Jiz, Ph.D., is a staff scientist at the Immunology Department of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Manila, Philippines. He recently obtained his Ph.D. at Brown University under a Fulbright fellowship, working on vaccine development for schistosomiasis japonica with Dr. Jonathan Kurtis. His work demonstrated that IgE responses to the vaccine candidate paramyosin predicted resistance to reinfection, and this protective effect was attenuated by IgG4 responses. In addition, he has developed a pilot-scale process to produce recombinant S. japonicumparamyosin. Prior to pursuing graduate studies, Dr. Jiz was actively involved in the laboratory and fieldwork aspects of an NIH-funded prospective immuno-epidemiological study investigating the complex relationships of puberty, immunity and malnutrition in schistosomiasis japonica. Currently he is the principal investigator of a WHO/TDR re-entry grant to assess the efficacy of the S. japonicumvaccine candidate paramyosin in water buffalos. Dr. Jiz plans to continue working on protective immunity, vaccine development and immunoregulation in schistosomiasis and other diseases of public health concern to the Philippines, through competitive grants and/or further post-doctoral training.

Andres Gutierrez Nunez

Andres NunezAndres Gutiérrez, Eng., is research assistant in the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Unit and at the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia. He is involved in research on neglected tropical diseases with concrete applications on public health in his country, including cysticercosis, tuberculosis, and recently influenza. Andres is part of a multidisciplinary group focused on 1) identifying new antigens to be tested as vaccine candidates for porcine cysticercosis as well as novel antigens for immunodiagnostics of human neurocysticercosis, 2) understanding the molecular mechanism of action and resistance to pyrazinamide (a first-line drug for treating tuberculosis) that will help to design effective drugs, and 3) developing pattern recognition algorithms for diagnosis of diseases (tuberculosis, intestinal parasitosis, bacterial vaginosis, and malaria). Andres received his bachelor’s and professional degree in Biotechnology Engineering from the Universidad Católica de Santa María in Arequipa, Peru.

*‘PigMatrix’ and the Design of a Genome-derived Epitope-driven Taenia solium Vaccine: Conservation of Pig-Human T helper Epitopes (2011 ICIW Conference Presentation)

Missa Patrick Sanou

Patrick SanouMissa Patrick Sanou is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Microbiology and Cell Science at the University of Florida. Native of Burkina Faso, he is interested in prophylactic and therapeutic approaches against diseases affecting the developing world. His current work on vaccine immunogens involves the characterization of conserved cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) epitopes on the HIV virus for the design of a prophylactic vaccine. He is co-author on three papers and has given an oral presentation at the 10th International Feline Retrovirus Research Symposium (Charleston, SC, 2010) and a poster presentation at the AIDS Vaccine 2010 (Atlanta, GA, 2010). Based on his work on vaccine immunogens and the use of immunoinformatics, he is also working to highlight the cell-mediated immunity induced by the rabies virus, which may hold important clues to the improvement of current rabies vaccines and the better design of new vaccines against other challenging infections.

Anju Gupta

Anju GuptaAnju Gupta, M.S., is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Rhode Island. She received her Master’s degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) where she collaborated with The University of Massachusetts Medical School, to investigate neuronal affinity to a novel photoresist derived carbon substrate. Her multidisciplinary research at URI involves studying the interaction of synthetic cationic cell penetrating peptides with model membranes. She is also involved in a project which studies the formation and characterization of peptide amphiphiles. She has won several awards for her work including the “Best Poster” and “Best Research” award at the Graduate Symposium conducted at URI. She was also awarded the URI Graduate Student United’s annual grant. She has presented her work at the annual meetings of American Chemical Society (ACS) and American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Her work has been published in The International Journal of Molecular Sciences and Colloids and Surfaces. Anju was chosen from College of Engineering to present her work at URI’s President Inauguration ceremony and to mentor the teaching assistants in the College of Engineering, URI.  During her masters at WPI, she led a group of high school students to complete an award winning project involving splicing of GFP gene from jellyfish and injecting the gene into E.Coli under Math and Science Technology Education Resource (MASTER) K12-program.

 

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