Understanding the molecular mechanisms that allow a common intracellular parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, to persist in the mammalian CNS.
5-minute Interview on Science Friday
Toxoplasma gondii is an intracellular parasite that is found world-wide and is able to infect most warm blooded animals (from birds to humans). In humans and rodents, Toxoplasma naturally establishes a life-long, asymptomatic infection of the brain. Unfortunately, in those with limited immune response (e.g. fetus, organ transplant patients), this tropism for the brain can lead to devastating effects including seizures, blindness, and death. Thus, our goal is to understand the brain-Toxoplasma interaction at the cellular and molecular level so that we can i) develop curative treatment for symptomatic toxoplasmosis and ii) identify new mechanisms for modulating brain immune responses, which are now thought to play a role in neurologic diseases ranging from Multiple Sclerosis to Alzheimer’s disease.