Mary Wilson, professor of internal medicine and faculty member in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Immunology, administers a laboratory research program that focuses on the Leishmania spp., a genus of pathogenic protozoa that cause a high burden of human disease.
Studies address diverse aspects of leishmaniasis, including protozoan molecular genetics, intracellular trafficking of the parasite in the infected host cell, effects of the parasite on macrophage gene expression, experimental and human immune responses during leishmaniasis, and human genetic susceptibility to this complex disease.
What is Leishmaniasis? According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease that is found in parts of the tropics, subtropics, and southern Europe. It is caused by infection with Leishmania parasites, which are spread by the bite of infected sand flies. There are several different forms of leishmaniasis in people. The most common forms are cutaneous leishmaniasis, which causes skin sores, and visceral leishmaniasis, which affects some of the internal organs of the body (for example, spleen, liver, and bone marrow).