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Maria D Esteve-Gassent

Assistant Professor


Phone: (979) 845-1117

Office: VMA 316, 321A, 321B, 321D and 382 VIDI

Mailstop: 4467

Department: VTPB

Photo of Esteve-Gassent, Maria


Brazil: Interest in the presence of pathogenic Borrelia species in sinantropic bats in Paraná, Brazil. Our research team will be acquiring blood and tissue samples from bats as well as ecto-parasites feeding on those bats to analyze the presence of pathogenic Borrelia. Our collaborators in Brazil have found Borrelia spp in bats blood and they are interested in determine whether those Borrelia species are pathogenic for humans and life stock, due to the high density of bats in that particular area, and the impact they can have on human and veterinary health.

Mexico: Study of Lyme disease in Center and Northern Mexico. During the Mid 1990’s there was a number of Lyme disease cases diagnosed in Central Mexico, and the numbers have been increasing considerably during the past few years. Our collaborators are scientist and physicians at the Pediatric Hospital in the Centro Médico Nacioal SXXI (IMSS) The objectives of this project are to analyze the expression of selected Borrelia-virulence markers associated with European and US borreliosis in tissues of potential reservoirs and vectors (ticks), and to determine regions of high-risk for Lyme disease in Mexico. The rationale is: we have documented B. burgdorferi infection in Mexican patients with clinical manifestations similar to those reported in both, US and Europe (Mexico diagnostic reference laboratory, unpublished).

Spain: Study of Membrane proteins of Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. Our collaborator is at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the University of Valencia. Their expertise is in the study of hydrophobic domains of proteins and the study of their topology when associated to membranes.

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Scholarly Interests

My Research Team is interested in understanding how Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease can spread from the site of the tick bite to other organs such as joints and heart. To do these studies we are incorporating the tick model together with the mouse model of Lyme disease in our approaches. In addition, our team is interested in understanding the Lyme disease ecology in non-endemic areas, to determine risk factors for both humans and companion animals in these states. To attain these goals, we are part of an interdisciplinary team of ecologists, entomologists, veterinarians, molecular biologists, epidemiologists and more. Through this team we have developed a number of ecology projects currently funded by NIH and USDA to better understand not only tick populations but also their interactions with different populations of pathogens. Through that process we have worked together with the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in the development of molecular diagnostic tools to improve the detection and prompt treatment of affected animals.

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