Mary Wilson, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine, Epidemiology, and Microbiology & Immunology, has been awarded a four-year, $650,000 VA Merit grant, “Innate Inflammatory Cells in Leishmaniasis.” The grant will allow Dr. Wilson to continue her research into the pathophysiology of the insect-borne parasitic disease leishmaniasis, which occurs in different clinical forms including ulcerative skin lesions and a systemic disease resembling leukemia. Millions of people around the world are currently affected by leishmaniasis, and an estimated 20,000 to 50,000 will die from it each year.
The Leishmania protozoa are spread through the bite of sand flies. Parasites reside in mammalian phagocytic cells and suppress curative immune responses, undermining the ability of the host to effectively fight off infection and leading to inflammatory responses in the diseased individual. Dr. Wilson will examine neutrophils and other myeloid cells that are recruited to the sites of inflammation, and how they function in mice infected with leishmaniasis. In addition, she and the members of her lab will investigate the role of the intracellular protein NLRP10 in resolving neutrophil-dominated inflammatory lesions.
Dr. Wilson is the first Carver College of Medicine Professor of Global Health and also recently received the 2018 Distinguished Mentor Award.