Diane McMahon-Pratt PhD

Professor of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases)

Research Interests

Immune Response to Infectious Disease; Immunotherapy; Vaccine

Current Projects

  • Pathogenesis and virulence factors of Leishmania (Viannia) panamensis; targeted towards vaccine development against L. (Viannia) infection
  • Molecular Aspects of Vector/Host-Leishmania Interaction, a collaborative Fogarty Training Program with CIDEIM and the Universidad de Los Andes and Universidad del Valle (Colombia)
  • Intervenable Host Leishmania (Viannia) Interactions, an NIH project with CIDEIM
  • Investigation of the role of DKK-1 in the regulation of the innate and T cell responses to Leishmania infection in collaboration with Drs. A. Bothwell and Chae (immunobiology)

Research Summary

The focus of the research in my laboratory is the genus of parasitic protozoan, Leishmania, which causes a spectrum of diseases known as leishmaniasis. The laboratory is interested in understanding the immune effector mechanisms in the mammalian host that are involved in the control of infection and/or pathogenesis, with the aim to developing a vaccine and also less toxic treatments for infection. Currently, Professor McMahon-Pratt is director of a Fogarty sponsored International Program with Centro Internacional de Entrenamiento e Investigaciones Médicas (CIDEIM) in Colombia. This program is focused on understanding the pathology and epidemiology of leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania (Viannia), which predominates in South America, with the objectives of developing training and methods of intervention.

Extensive Research Description

The research in Professor McMahon-Pratt's laboratory is concerned with the parasitic protozoan, Leishmania, which causes a spectrum of diseases known as leishmaniasis. The laboratory is interested in understanding the immune effector mechanisms in the mammalian host that are involved in the control of infection and/or pathogenesis, with the aim to developing a vaccine and/or non-toxic treatments for infection. Towards these ends, we are collaborating with Dr. Tarek Fahmy (Yale Bioengineering) in the development of nanoparticle therapeutic treatment delivery system for leishmaniasis. In other studies, the laboratory also collaborates Drs. Al Bothwell and Eddie Chae (Immunobiology) investigating the role of DKK-1 in the regulation of the innate and T cell responses to Leishmania infection. We have long-term collaboration with scientists in Colombia. Currently, Professor McMahon-Pratt is director of NIAID R01 and Fogarty (NIH)-sponsored Programs with Centro Internacional de Entrenamiento e Investigaciones Médicas (CIDEIM) in Colombia. These programs are focused on understanding the pathology of leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania (Viannia), which predominates in South America, with the objective of designing immunological approaches for treatment and control.

Currently, Professor McMahon-Pratt is director of a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-Fogarty sponsored International Program with Centro Internacional de Entrenamiento e Investigaciones Médicas (CIDEIM) in Colombia. This program is focused on understanding the pathology and epidemiology of leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania (Viannia), which predominates in South America.


Selected Publications

  • Rodriguez-Pinto, D., Saravia, N.G. and McMahon-Pratt, D. 2014. B cells are competent antigen presenting cells in Leishmania (Viannia) infection. BMC Infect Dis. Feb 25;14:108. doi: 10.1186/1471-2334-14-108.
  • Navas , A., Vargas , D. A., Freudzon, M., McMahon-Pratt, D., Saravia, N.G. and Gómez, M.A. 2014. Chronicity of cutaneous leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania panamensis is associated with parasite mediated induction of chemokine gene expression. Infect. Immun., 82:2872-80.
  • Ehrlich,A.K., Castilho,T., Goldsmith-Pestana, K. Chae, W.-J., Bothwell, A., Sparwasser, T. and McMahon-Pratt, D. 2014.The immunotherapeutic role of regulatory T cells in Leishmania (Viannia) panamensis infection. J. Immunol. 193:2961-70.
  • Dawn M. Wetzel, D.M., McMahon-Pratt, D.M. and Koleske, A.J. 2012. The Abl and Arg kinases mediate distinct modes of phagocytosis and are required for maximal Leishmania infection. Mol. Cell. Biol., Mol Cell Biol. 32(15):3176-86. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00086-12. Epub 2012 Jun 4.
  • Ramírez, C. Díaz,Y,. Tellez, J., Castilho, TM, Rojas, R., Ettinger, NA, Tikhonova, I., Alexander,NA, Hager, J., Wilson, ME, Lin, A., Zhao, H., Saravia, NG, and McMahon- Pratt, . 2012. Human Macrophage Response to L. (Viannia) panamensis Infection: Microarray Evidence for an Early Inflammatory Response PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 6(10):e1866. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001866. Epub 2012 Oct 25
  • Jayakumar, A., Park, E., Castilho, T., Goldsmith-Pestana, K., Blackwell, J. and McMahon-Pratt, D. 2010. The TLR1/2 agonist Pam3CSK4 enhances specific CD8+ responses in heterologous prime-boost vaccination and provides protection against chronic Leishmania (Viannia) panamensis infection. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2011 Jun;5(6):e1204. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001204.
  • Castilho, T., Goldsmith-Pestana, K., Lozano, C., Valderrama, L., Saravia, N.G. and McMahon Pratt, D. 2010. Murine Model of Chronic L. (Viannia) panamensis Infection: Role of IL-13 in Disease. Eur. J. Immunol., 40(10):2816-29.
  • McMahon-Pratt, D. and Alexander, J. (2004). Does the Leishmania major paradigm of pathogenesis and protection hold for New World Cutaneous Leishmaniases or the visceral disease? Immunological Rev. 201:206-224.
  • Saravia, N.G., Weigle, K., Navas, C., Segura, I., Valderrama, L., Valencia, A.Z., Escorcia, B., and McMahon-Pratt, D. Heterogeneity, Geographic Distribution, and Pathogenicity of Serodemes of Leishmania (Viannia) in Colombia. American Journal of Tropical Medicine Hygiene 66: 738-744, 2002.
  • Dondji, B., Deak, E., Goldsmith-Pestana, K., Perez-Jimenez, E., Miyake, S., Esteban, M. Yammaura, T. & McMahon-Pratt, D. 2008. NKTi cell activation during DNA priming in heterolgous prime-boost vaccination enhances T cell responses and protection against Leishmania. Eur. J. Immunol, I38:706-719.

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