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
  • Collaborative Development of a Vaccine against Cutaneous and Visceral Leishmaniasis, a collaboration with Professor Mary Wilson of the University of Iowa and Professor Jennie Blackwell of University of Western Australia.

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. 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. 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 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 other studies, the laboratory also collaborates with scientists in Brazil and Colombia. 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

  • 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.
  • Leishmania ortholog of macrophage migration inhibitory factor modulates host macrophage responses. Kamir D; Zierow S; Leng L; Cho Y; Diaz Y; Griffith J; McDonald C; Merk M; Mitchell RA; Trent J; Chen Y; Kwong YK; Xiong H; Vermeire J; Cappello M; McMahon-Pratt D; Walker J; Bernhagen J; Lolis E; Bucala RA. 2008. J. Immunol. 180(12):8250 – 8261
  • Blackwell, J.M., McMahon-Pratt, D. and Wilson, M.E. 2007. “Impact of the Leishmania genome on vaccine development”. Chapter 13. In: Leishmania: After the Genome. P.J. Myler and N. Fasel, Eds. Horizon Scientific Press. Pp. 281 -295
  • Deak E, Jayakumar A, Cho KW, Goldsmith-Pestana K, Dondji B, Lambris JD, and McMahon-Pratt D.2010. Murine visceral leishmaniasis: IgM and polyclonal B-Cell activation lead to disease exacerbation. Eur J Immunol. Eur. J. Immunol. 40: 1355-68.

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