Lab Address

1048 Veterinary Medicine Building
Department of Biomedical Sciences
1600 South 16th Street
Ames, Iowa 50011-1250

📞 +1 (515) 294-4415
📠 +1 (515) 294-2315
Research Purpose (scroll ↓)
Our ability to control diseases like LF and schistosomiasis is hampered by a lack of effective anthelmintic drugs. For example, praziquantel is the only available drug in most parts of the world for the treatment of schistosomiasis, and new, more effective drugs are urgently needed. Identifying potential new drugs is challenging, however, because we simply do not understand enough basic parasite biology. The goal of our lab is to address this problem. We integrate molecular biology, physiology and computational biology approaches to shine a light on fundamental aspects of nematode and flatworm biology. By better understanding how these parasites function and establish infection we hope to reveal pathways that may be exploited by new control strategies, positively impacting the health of hundreds of millions of people worldwide that suffer from NTDs caused by worms.
Neglected Diseases (scroll ↓)
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) perpetuate socioeconomic instability in profoundly impoverished developing countries. Of the 17 diseases categorized by the World Health Organization as NTDs, eight are caused by parasitic worm infections that inflict crippling morbidity and significant mortality. Economic deprivation within affected areas provides very little financial incentive for the pharmaceutical industry to pursue discovery and development of new drugs to combat these infections. This has resulted in the designation of such maladies as NTDs, recognizing the disproportionately small investment in research and development toward new treatments relative to the magnitude of human suffering caused by the pathogens.

Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is an NTD caused by parasitic nematodes, including Brugia malayi, which are transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Adult parasites reside in the lymphatic vasculature of infected humans, causing lymphedema (with elephantiasis as the most extreme manifestation), hydrocoele, inflammation, dermatitis and long-term disability. The prevalence of LF is staggering; over 120 million people are infected, with over 1.4 billion at risk in 73 endemic countries.

Schistosomes, the etiological agents of schistosomiasis, infect over 200 million people with more than 650 million at risk. Unlike B. malayi, these worms are flatworms, a different phylum to nematodes with very different biology. Adult worms live in the vasculature and release eggs, which cause most of the pathology associated with the disease including urinary tract damage, hepatomegaly and hypertension.