The Vector Molecular Biology Section (VMBS) focuses on understanding how molecules from arthropod vectors are critical for the success of pathogen transmission and translating this knowledge into disease control opportunities. The section has two main themes: dissecting the immune events following an arthropod bite, mainly the cellular interactions at the vector-host-pathogen interface, and their implication for disease pathogenesis; and elucidating the determinants of successful transmission to a mammalian host by a competent arthropod vector.
Jesus G. Valenzuela, Ph.D.
Chief, Vector Molecular Biology Section
Education: Ph.D., 1995, University of Arizona
Dr. Valenzuela received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Arizona in 1995. He joined the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases in 1996, became a research fellow in 1999, and became a tenure-track investigator in the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research in October 2002. Dr. Valenzuela became a Senior Investigator in October 2009. In 2019, Dr. Valenzuela became deputy chief of the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research.
Johannes S. P. Doehl, Ph.D. (He/Him/His)
Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow
Ph.D., Molecular Parasitology, 2014, University of York, Department of Biology/Hull York Medical School, UK
B.Sc. Honours, Biochemistry, 2009, University of Aberdeen, UK
Languages Spoken: German, Portuguese, Spanish
My current main research interest are two-fold, revolving around 1) the description of scratching as a host immune defense mechanism against ectoparasites, and 2) the understanding of skin patch formation and expansion post-dissemination of Leishmania infantum.
Bachelor's Degree, University of Maryland, College Park
Associate's Degree, Montgomery College
Languages Spoken: Korean
I am part of the tick project that investigates immune responses to tick bites which will lead to development of an anti-tick vaccine.
Eva Iniguez, Ph.D. (She/Her/Hers)
IRTA Postdoctoral Fellow (INRO)
Ph.D., Pathobiology, University of Texas at El Paso
Languages Spoken: Spanish
Shaden Kamhawi, Ph.D. (She/Her/Hers)
Leishmaniasis Group Leader, Vector Molecular Biology Section
Ph.D., Medical Entomology, Salford Univeristy, Salford, England
Languages Spoken: French, Arabic
Originally from Jordan, Dr. Kamhawi received her Ph.D. in Medical Entomology at Salford University in England in 1990. She returned to Jordan as an Assistant Professor at Yarmouk University where she worked for several years on leishmaniasis and hydatid disease, with a focus on transmission and risk factors in field settings. Dr. Kamhawi is currently the Leishmaniasis Group Leader in the Vector Molecular Biology Section (VMBS).
Claudio Meneses, B.S.
B.S., 1995, Universidade Gama Filho, Brazil
Languages Spoken: Portuguese
My duties consist of maintaining large sand fly and tick colonies for supplying lab members and international collaborators with live insects for their research projects.
Tingirt B. Mitiku (She/Her/Hers)
Biotechnology/Biology, Montgomery College
Languages Spoken: Amharic
I am an IRTA student at NIAID/NIH, and I co-operate with laboratory investigators and post docs performing research on sand fly-leishmania host interaction. In the insectary lab, I operate on mass rearing sand flies, I prepare sand fly food and materials needed for insect colonization.
Fabiano Oliveira, M.D., Ph.D. (He/Him/His)
Associate Scientist, Staff Scientist
M.D., Medical School of the Federal University of Bahia, Bahia, Brazil
Ph.D., Human Pathology, Federal University of Bahia, Brazil
Languages Spoken: Portuguese, Spanish
Tiago Donatelli Serafim, Ph.D.
Ph.D., 2012, Federal University of Ouro Preto, Brazil
Bachelor’s degree, 2008, Federal University of Ouro Preto, Brazil
Languages Spoken: Portuguese
Dr. Serafim got his Ph.D. in Brazil on immunology of Leishmania infection and purinergic signaling and spent early career years in the UK at the University of Glasgow investigating the role of kinases on Trypanosoma brucei in vivo.
Sameeta Siraj (She/Her/Hers)
Pre-Clinical Nursing Program, Montgomery College
Languages Spoken: Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi
I am working as a student IRTA to help in the Leishmania project at the LMVR. I take care of the sand flies as they are the natural vectors of Leishmania. I also help in breeding and potting them up to provide strong colonies for research purposes.
Daniel E. Sonenshine, Ph.D.
Ph.D., 1959, University of Maryland
Bachelor’s degree, 1955, City College of New York
I am investigating the role of tick saliva regulating tick feeding success, including the antihemostatic features of tick saliva that facilitate tick attachment and ability to engorge.