Susana Mendez, DVM, PhD
Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases
Immunology, Vaccines, Protozoa
The major focus of my group is the study of leishmaniasis that is caused by the intracellular protozoan parasite Leishmania spp. We have developed a live vaccine that consists of live parasites and CpG ODN against cutaneous leishmaniasis. Transgenic and genetically-deficient mice are used as model systems to study vaccine mechanism, with the ultimate goal of ascertaining the role of antigen presenting cells, NK cells and particularly regulatory T cells in the success of vaccination.
I am also interested in the canine disease, which is incurable in dogs and a zoonosis, so people who live near infected dogs, particularly children and the immunosuppressed, are at risk of contracting the disease, fatal if untreated. I am doing genetic studies to identify genes that confer susceptibility/resistant to the disease, and work in several aspects of host-parasite relationship, with special emphasis in infectivity and transmission (in endemic areas and in NY state).
Finally, I am interested in mucosal immunology and the role of hookworm antigens (a human and canine disease) shed by the adult worms that are implicated in hookworm-related immunosuppression. Understanding the mechanisms by which parasites manipulate the immune response, as well as the specific molecules involved in the process, is of ongoing interest not only for direct application for the development of anthelmintic strategies, but also for the development of novel anti-inflammatory therapeutics with implications in the wider medical community (i.e. treatment of allergy, asthma).
- Dr. Yukari Manabe, Johns Hopkins Medical Institute in Baltimore, MD. Development of a rabbit model for the sudy of chronic and latent infections in tuberculosis.
- Dr. Fatah Kashanchi, George Washington University, DC. Development of a murine model permissive of engraftment of hematopoetic stem cells.
- Dr. Jose M. Alunda at the Veterinary School of the University Complutense of Madrid, Spain. Genetic susceptibility to canine leishmaniasis.
- Dr. Peter Hotez, George Washington University, DC. Hookworm associated immunomodulation.