Diane McMahon-Pratt PhD

Professor of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases)

Biographical Info

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 against leishmaniasis. The laboratory has defined target vaccine candidate molecules and is collaborating with the University of Iowa and Cambridge University in a project directed toward the development of a multi-subunit vaccine. In addition, we are collaborating with Dr. Tarek Fahmy (L 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 program 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.

International Activity

  • Vector/Host-Parasite Interface of Leishmaniasis in Colombia
    Cali, Colombia(2011)
    The goal of the training grant is to build research capacity to identify strategies and devise means to interrupt the cycle of transmission and pathogenesis of leishmaniasis through intervention of the invertebrate and vertebrate host pathogen interactions. To achieve this goal, the training program will implement research capacity in the molecular analysis of the interaction between Leishmania and both the sandfly vector and the mammalian host. The proposed program builds upon the existing research capacity and ongoing projects of the developing country institution in clinical, epidemiological and biological aspects of cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis and other transmissible diseases, prior collaboration with Yale faculty, and the critical mass of faculty and infrastructure for the conduct of molecular analyses of kinetoplastid parasites and host responses available at Yale University. Colombian scientists will receive training at Yale through the conduct of mentored research, auditing of postgraduate courses and short courses on research skills, such as biosafety, responsible conduct of research, and scientific writing. Workshops will be offered each year at CIDEIM with the participation of Yale Faculty (on site and teleconferencing) to build and multiply research skills and introduce national investigators to concepts and principles of molecular analysis (bioinformatics and data mining, functional genomics, expression analysis). Predoctoral trainees will be selected among postgraduate students from Colombian universities who conduct thesis research in CIDEIM. Students will be recent graduates of human or veterinary medicine and basic science who have qualified for scholarship support within the framework of COLCIENCIAS' Young Investigator program. Post-doctoral training and scientific exchange for periods of up to 4 months will be available to research staff of CIDEIM whose research is relevant to the vector or host- Leishmania interaction. During year 5 of the program, formal postgraduate courses on the molecular genetic analyses of host (mammalian/vector)-pamsite interactions will be offered to national and regional students by CIDEIM. Overall, the training conducted will prepare investigators in new areas of research, implement training by teleconferencing, and assure the capacity to offer formal courses for Colombian and regional post-graduate students. All of these will contribute to the sustainability of research capacity.
  • Improved Treatment of American Cutaneous Leishmaniasis by Immunomodulation
    Colombia(2011 - 2015)
    This application is a collaborative project with Dr. N. Saravia at CIDEIM (Colombia) which is focused on the development of immunomodulatory therapy for cutaneous leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania (Viannia). The murine model of chronic disease is being used to interrogate new approaches for treatment.
  • Immunology and epidemiology of leishmaniasis

Education & Training

University of Southern California (1969)
Harvard University (1978)
Post-Doctoral Fellow
Harvard Medical School, Medicine (1978 - 1980)

Honors & Recognition

  • Councilor, American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
  • Burroughs-Welccome Lecturer, NIH Laboratory of Parasitic Diseasea
  • Organizer, Gordon Conference on Biological Aspects of Parasitism
    (1991, 1993)
  • Bailey K. Ashford Medal, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Professional Service

  • Editorial Board, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (2008 - Now)
  • Co-organizer, Co-Organizer, International Conference on post-genomic research strategies for the development of vaccines and drugs against leishmaniasis. (2006 - 2007)
  • WorldLeish3 –Italy, April, 2005: Organizing Committee (2004 - 2005)
  • WHO/T.D.R. Review of Leishmaniasis Program (2004 - Present)
  • Member, Program Committee, Member, Program Committee, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (2001 - Now)
  • NIH - Microbiology and Infectious Disease Research Study Section Member (2001 - 2004)
  • Review Panel, Howard Hughes, International Infectious Disease Program (2000 - Present)
  • Editorial Board, Editorial Board, American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (1999 - Now)
  • Editorial Board, Memorias Oswaldo Cruz (1993 - 2004)
  • Organizer, W.H.O. Workshop, December 1993, Identification and diagnosis of Leishmania species. Cali, Colombia. (1992 - 1993)
  • Organizer, W.H.O. Workshop, December, 1992. Pan American Health Organization. Washington, D.C., World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization, Workshop Organizer. Washington, D.C (1991 - 1992)
  • Served as a reviewer for grant applications to the National Science Foundation, Canadian Research Foundation, Veterans Administration and World Health Organization and US Army Research, Wellcome Trust (England) (1990 - Now)
  • Study Section member - Tropical Medicine and Parasitology, NIH Study Section member - Tropical Medicine and Parasitology (1988 - 1992)

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