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Molecular Helminthology Laboratory

People in the Molecular Helminthology Lab

Sreemoyee Acharya

Sreemoyee (Sree) Acharya joined the lab in August 2019 as a post-doc, after completing a PhD at Iowa State University, IA. Sree is presently trying to identify previously unexplored plasminogen binding proteins present in the tegument of adult Schistosoma mansoni worms. When she is not in the lab, Sree enjoys painting, visiting museums and haunted places, watching British comedy and obsessing over Harry Potter.

Akram Da'darah, MS, PhD, is an Associate Professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University who joined the Molecular Helminthology Laboratory in 2010. His main research focuses on host-parasite interaction in order to understand how schistosome parasites are able to survive in the host for several years. The overall objective of his research is to identify novel candidates that can be used as drug targets and/or vaccine candidates. Prior to joining Tufts University, Akram has worked at the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard School of Public Health for twelve years as a post-doctoral fellow, a research associate, and a scientist. He has extensive experience in studying schistosome parasites.

He received his PhD in Molecular and Biochemical Parasitology in 1997 from Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine at Hamburg University, Germany. His PhD research focused on polyamine metabolic pathway as a drug target for human parasitic diseases. He also obtained a Master's degree in cytogenetics.

Vist Dr. Da'darah's faculty profile.

Catherine Nation

Catherine (Katie) Nation is a post-doctoral fellow studying the tegumental nucleotide metabolizing ectoenzymes of Schistosoma mansoni. Katie joined the lab in February 2018 after completing her PhD in Parasitology from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. There, she studied the role of molecular chaperone HSP90 in Leishmania stage differentiation. When not in the lab, Katie enjoys cooking, hiking with her husband and dog, and bird photography.

David Pirovich

David Pirovich

David Pirovich is a PhD Candidate in the Molecular Helminthology Lab in the Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. He graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University, NJ. David currently researches moonlighting functions in tegumental Schistosoma mansoni glycolytic enzymes.

Professor Shoemaker currently leads research focused on the development of therapies for the prevention and treatment of microbial toxins and helminth parasite infections. Research applies molecular biology tools to gain understanding of host-pathogen interactions and to use the information for development of new therapeutic strategies.

Dr. Shoemaker’s lab is developing treatments for both the prevention and cure of intoxication from a number of microbial toxins, primarily bioterror threat agents such as Botulinum neurotoxins and toxins from Clostridium difficileE. coli, anthrax and ricin. The antitoxin technology is also being adapted for the development of novel antiviral therapies. In addition, Dr. Shoemaker co-leads (with Dr. Patrick Skelly) the Molecular Helminthology Laboratory in which research is directed to the development of therapeutics and vaccines for parasitic worm infections. Research is focused on characterizing the complex host-parasite relationship in nematode and trematode diseases infecting billions of people in the developing world and causing serious economic losses in the animal industries.

Prior to arriving at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in 2003, Dr. Shoemaker led the Animal Health Research Unit at the government-owned research company, AgResearch, in New Zealand. This team of over 60 scientists and staff works to reduce the impact of disease on the animal industry and to leverage this knowledge for human health benefits. The Animal Health Unit focuses on internal parasites and tuberculosis. Dr. Shoemaker joined AgResearch in 1995 from Harvard University, where his research focused on applying biotechnology to reduce the burden of worm parasitic diseases on the developing world, particularly schistosomiasis.

Dr. Shoemaker received his PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Iowa and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Dr. David Baltimore. In 1980, Charles was one of the original scientists at the formation of Genetics Institute, Inc., a highly successful biotechnology company in Boston that was later acquired by American Home Products and is now part of Wyeth. While at Genetics Institute, he was the leader of several drug development projects that resulted in several protein pharmaceutical agents now on the market such as two currently used to treat hemophilia. Charles left Genetics Institute to join the faculty at Harvard in 1987.

Patrick J. Skelly, PhD, Professor, jointly runs the Molecular Helminthology Laboratory at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University with Professor Charles B. Shoemaker. A major focus of the laboratory is using newer molecular technologies, notably RNAi, to study helminth molecular and cell biology. Before coming to Tufts, Patrick was on the faculty at Harvard School of Public Health. He received his PhD in Biochemistry in 1986 at the Australian National University from his work on the cuticle of the ectoparasite, Lucilia cuprina. Patrick is a past president of the New England Association of Parasitologists.

Jacque Tremblay

Jacque Tremblay is a Senior Research Assistant with a B.S. from Purdue University and thirteen years previous experience as a Research Assistant/Associate in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Among other things, she is using phage display to identify heavy-chain-only VHH antibodies that bind with high affinity, as well as to different epitopes, and in some cases are neutralizers, on BoNT/A, BoNT/B, BoNT/E, Stx1, Stx2, TcdA, TcdB, Ricin A, Ricin B, HCD40, HCEA, PAWT, killed viruses, and several different types of algae and schisto proteins. She is currently a foster mom to a toddler boy and hopes to someday be able to adopt him. She enjoys spending time with her family in New Hampshire and Connecticut. Her most recent publications are:

  1. Mukherjee J, Tremblay JM, Leysath CE, Ofori K, Baldwin K, Feng X, Bedenice D, Webb RP, Wright PM, Smith LA, Tzipori S, Shoemaker CB. 2012. A novel strategy for development of recombinant antitoxin therapeutics tested in a mouse botulism model. PLoS ONE. 7(1):e29941.
  2. Tremblay JM, Kuo CL, Abeijon C, Sepulveda J, Oyler G, Hu X, Jin MM, Shoemaker CB. 2010. Camelid single domain antibodies (VHHs) as neuronal cell intrabody binding agents and inhibitors of Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) proteases. Toxicon. 56:990-8.
  3. Sepulveda J, Tremblay JM, Skelly PJ, Shoemaker CB. 2010. Schistosoma mansoni host-exposed surface antigens characterized by sera and recombinant antibodies from schistosomiasis resistant rats. Int. J. Parasitol. 40:1407-17.
  4. Tremblay JM, Unruh JR, Johnson CK, Yarbrough LR. Mechanism of interaction of PITPalpha with membranes: conformational changes in the C-terminus associated with membrane binding. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2005 Dec 15;444(2):112-20.
  5. Vordtriede PB, Doan CN, Tremblay JM, Helmkamp GM Jr, Yoder MD. Structure of PITPbeta in complex with phosphatidylcholine: comparison of structure and lipid transfer to other PITP isoforms. Biochemistry. 2005 Nov 15;44(45):14760-71.
  6. Li H, Tremblay JM, Yarbrough LR, Helmkamp GM Jr. Both isoforms of mammalian phosphatidylinositol transfer protein are capable of binding and transporting sphingomyelin. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2002 Jan 30;1580(1):67-76.
  7. Tremblay JM, Li H, Yarbrough LR, Helmkamp GM Jr. Modifications of cysteine residues in the solution and membrane-associated conformations of phosphatidylinositol transfer protein have differential effects on lipid transfer activity. Biochemistry. 2001 Aug 7;40(31):9151-8.
  8. Yoder MD, Thomas LM, Tremblay JM, Oliver RL, Yarbrough LR, Helmkamp GM Jr. Structure of a multifunctional protein. Mammalian phosphatidylinositol transfer protein complexed with phosphatidylcholine. J Biol Chem. 2001 Mar 23;276(12):9246-52.