This week the Verocai Lab hosted distinguished parasitologist Dr. John Gilleard at Texas A&M University. Dr. Gilleard is a Professor of Parasitology and Associate Dean of Research at the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. His research group integrates parasitology, genetic and genomic approaches to study the molecular mechanisms of drug resistance in parasites and population genetic approaches to investigate its emergence and spread. Furthermore, Dr. Gilleard has developed novel molecular approaches to study the epidemiology of parasitic infections. Many of these ideas were highlighted in his very informative and engaging VTPB Seminar at the TAMU Veterinary School.
Not only is Dr. Gilleard an esteemed colleague of the parasitology community, he is also a active mentor and supporter of the Verocai lab. Together, we are always excited to share ongoing research projects and discuss potential collaborative opportunities to advance the study of parasitology. Indeed, we are very lucky to have wonderful colleagues like Dr. Gilleard, and we were honored to host him for these days of parasitology fun. The only downside was the sudden gray, cold weather (a bit too ‘English’ as Dr. Gilleard would put it, a native Liverpool resident), but we will make sure to bring him back for some of that Texas heat and sunshine!
Check out this month’s NCVP Fall Newsletter! Many current and former members of the lab are highlighted in the newsletter, including the cover! Congratulations to Dr. Verocai (the boss), Dr. Caroline Sobotyk (former post-doc), (soon-to-be) Dr. Tiana Sanders (former visiting student), and Dr. Sarah Myers (former visiting student) on all their recent successes and parasitology fame.
Juan David Carbonell Bonelo is a veterinarian from Cali, Colombia, has a master’s degree in tropical parasitic diseases, and is currently a resident of the European College of Veterinary Parasitology at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). He is also a Ph.D. student in the department of animal health of the UCM under the supervision of professor Aranzazu Meana Mañes. His research focuses on parasitic dermatitis in horses, particularly hypersensitivity to insect bites due to Culicoides, or biting midges. Juan David elaborated on his work: “I hope to understand the ecology, biology and diversity of biting midges that affect horses in southern Spain and to carry out in vitro and in vivo clinical trials of insecticides and repellents that improve the welfare of these pruritic animals.” Juan David’s passion for parasitology stems from his desire to end human and animal suffering: “I believe I can help humans through animals, whether they are companion animals, food animals, or wildlife.”
In order to expand his parasitic and diagnostic knowledge, Juan David chose to come to the Verocai Lab! In the Verocai Lab, he was learning a variety of molecular techniques that will allow him to diagnose and reveal vector hosts for his doctoral research involving Onchocerca cervicalis: “Onchocerca cervicalis is a parasite of equids transmitted by biting midges. This parasite generates clinical signs similar to that of insect bite hypersensitivity in horses; therefore, it should be considered an important differential diagnosis upon discovery of equine dermatitis”.
Juan David also discussed further why the Verocai Lab stood out to him personally: “It impressed me the large volume of samples analyzed in the diagnostic laboratory compared to other labs I have seen. This will certainly help me apply my knowledge in daily practice when I become a European Diplomate and specialist in veterinary parasitology. Not only did they receive a large volume, but also from a wide range domestic and wild animals. I had the opportunity to analyze samples from giraffes, zebras, and even bison from different wild and zoo populations!”
Overall, we were thrilled to have Juan David come to Texas! Juan David is a great example of the type of mutual collaboration we strive to provide for students, post-docs, and/or other professionals here. We at the Verocai lab know that our scientific colleagues, both locally and internationally, are critical to unravel the mysteries of the parasitology world and we are very fortunate that we can mediate such collaborative studies here in College Station, Texas!