Lucienne Visits TAMU!

Dr. Lucienne Tritten, colleague and friend of the Verocai Lab, came to visit sunny and warm College Station this past month to collaborate, tour the lab, and give a excellent presentation on her fascinating research (“Nematode extracellular vesicles and microRNAs: tiny players with great impact”). Dr. Tritten is a Assistant Professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where she studies the molecular crosstalk between parasitic helminths and their mammalian hosts. She is particularly interested in the roles played by helminth nucleic acids and extracellular vesicles (EVs) in host immunomodulation. In other words, she hopes to determine how EVs released by helminths shape the outcome of an infection in hosts. Collaborations with scientist like Dr. Tritten, is one of the key reasons the Verocai Lab is able to produce novel and impactful research in the field of parasitology. If you like to learn more about Dr. Tritten, check out her webpage. Also, don’t miss some of the work that has already transpired between our labs!

2024 VMBS Trainee Research Symposium

As always, The Verocai Lab strives to have a strong presence at Texas A&M and in the local community. So, we were thrilled to have three amazing talks at this year’s 2024 VMBS Trainee Research Symposium. Not only did each student give a informative, well-delivered talk about their own research area, but our very own Maureen Kelly won best oral presentation! Join us in congratulating Maureen, Kaylee, and Mary for representing Verocai Lab and unbelievable scientists.

Maureen Kelly (PhD student): Vector-borne pathogens in dogs of Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands

Kaylee Kipp (PhD student): Low-level detection of benzimidazole drug resistance in wild conservation bison herds co-grazing cattle using nemabiome sequencing

Mary Schech (Veterinary student): Wolbachia-detection via qPCR as an alternative molecular and classical heartworm microfilariae detection test

Welcome Pabasara and Likun!

The Verocai Lab would like to welcome new incoming postdoctoral researcher Pabasara and our new lab manager Likun! We are very excited to have each of them joining our lab.

Pabasara is from Badulla, Sri Lanka, and earned her Bachelor of Science in Zoology (2014) and Master of Science in Food Science and Technology (2017) from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka. She then joined Oklahoma State University in 2018 to pursue her PhD, where she became a part of the CATS lab in the College of Veterinary Medicine, working on Cytauxzoonosis. During this time, she developed a strong passion for studying host-parasite interactions and molecular diagnostic techniques. Upon completing her PhD in 2023, she accepted a postdoc position in the Verocai lab to work on a project that focuses on Dracunculus medinensis diagnostic markers. In her free time, Pabasara enjoys traveling and cooking.

Likun is from Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India and earned her doctoral degree in the field of food science and technology from University Laval, Quebec, Canada. She also worked as a research associate in the food science department of University Laval. After moving to college station, she got an opportunity to work for the same post with the Verocai Lab. In her spare time enjoys listening to music, dancing and spending time and playing with her little munchkin Nivaan.

We are thrilled to welcome two industrious and committed members to our team!

Verocai Lab is in the news!!

Happy New Year! We are excited to share a recent Verocai Lab publication that has drawn considerable public interest (see below). The article features the “rat lungworm”, or Angiostrongylus cantonensis, and how it has spread across the southeastern United States. These new details are significant to both human and animal health because of the parasite’s ability to migrate to the brain or spinal cord region! In addition to news articles, Dr. Guilherme Verocai was also featured in a CDC podcast to further discuss these findings. Please make sure to check it out to learn more about the parasite’s history, life-cycle, clinical picture, impact on public health, and what scientists are doing about it!

Angiostrongylus cantonensis Infection in Brown Rats (Rattus norvegicus), Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 2019–2022

Parasitic Brain Worm Spreading Across Southeastern U.S., Scientists Warn

Rat-Borne Parasite That Can Cause Brain Disease Spreading in Southern U.S.

Listen to Dr. Verocai’s interview on the CDC’s Emerging Infectious Disease Podcast! (also available on other podcast providers like Apple and Spotify)

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Gottdenker NL, Nascimento Ramos R, Hakimi H, McHale B, Rivera S, Miller BM, et al. Angiostrongylus cantonensis Infection in Brown Rats (Rattus norvegicus), Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 2019–2022. Emerg Infect Dis. 2023;29(10):2167-2170. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2910.230706

Verocai Lab Goes to First Friday!

The Verocai Lab attended First Friday, a community street fair held in Bryan, TX once a month, where we educated the community on common parasites of companion animals and livestock! Our booth featured specimens of heartworm, a microscope with bison parasites, and a “guess how many worms are in this jar” game! The community was very engaged and we were pleased to hear how many pet parents have their animals on prevention, especially during the winter months! Stay on the look out for our Parasitology Booth at the next First Friday!

Worms and Wellbeing 🎄☃❄

For our November AAVP Student Chapter meeting we hosted a mental health and wellbeing event featuring cookie decorating, coloring, Christmas music, and more! This time of year can be stressful for everyone and we encouraged our students to slow down and relax a bit! Thanks to everyone who came out!

Visiting Extern: Sarah Macomber-Bouton

Image of Sarah Macomber-Bouton

During the month of October the Verocai lab hosted 4th year veterinary student Sarah Macomber-Bouton. Sarah plans to join a mixed animal practice once she graduates in May, but wanted to get a deeper insight into the world of Parasitology! Sarah submitted the following statement about her experience here in the Verocai lab.

“I am a 4th year from Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (VMCVM) and visiting the lab for my Public/Corporate rotation to learn more about Parasitology in the academic and diagnostic setting. I am planning to graduate in May of 2024 and return to the Brazos Valley to work as a mixed animal practioner. I also want to integrate parasitology into the practice I work at, in order to improve client knowledge and compliance, as well as spread public health awareness.

I really enjoyed my time here. Everyone is so passionate about Parasitology and the work they are doing. If you have questions or specific interests, they will do their best to answer or show you what you need. I definitely left with more knowledge than I started and feel more comfortable with the parasites, and the tests performed, that may come up in my future as a clinician.”

Happy Halloween! Some scary new papers!

At the Verocai Lab, one of our favorite holidays is Halloween because we get to talk about all the frightening (and cool) parasites that are out there. To celebrate, we have two new papers to pique your interest and give you chills!

The first paper is about Angiostrongylus cantonensis, or the rat lungworm. This is the first time that rat lungworm has been found in the state of Georgia and this is scary important news! The parasite causes a eosinophilic meningoencephalitis, which means that humans or other mammals may experience clinical signs similar to bacterial meningitis (e.g., nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness, and headaches). However, in rare cases, more severe signs can be apparent, which makes this parasite quite a fright. Read more about our published collaboration and how this story is making national news!

Angiostrongylus cantonensis Infection in Brown Rats (Rattus norvegicus), Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 2019–2022

Parasitic Brain Worm Spreading Across Southeastern U.S., Scientists Warn

Parasitic, Invasive Worm Found in Rats in Georgia

Worm that jumps from rats to human brains invades southeastern US


The second paper is about Spirocerca lupi, a parasite of dogs and wild canids that has the potential to cause esophageal nodules that can ultimately transform to neoplastic lesions (!). Read more about how the Verocai Lab and colleagues are trying to tease apart the geographic diversity of this important canid parasite.

Elucidating Spirocerca lupi spread in the Americas by using phylogenetic and phylogeographic analyses

Happy Halloween Parasite Friends!

Welcome Tiana Sanders!

The Verocai Lab would like to welcome new incoming PhD graduate student Tiana Sanders! Tiana is from Catoosa, Oklahoma and earned her BSAG in Natural Resource Ecology and Management in 2019 and her DVM in 2023 from Oklahoma State University. During veterinary school Tiana found a passion for parasitology and decided her next step would be a residency/PhD with the Verocai lab! Tiana is being funded by the Merck Animal Health Residency Program with a focus on Dirofilaria immitis, the canine heartworm. Tiana is an active member of the American Association of Veterinary Parasitology and in her spare time enjoys kayaking, watching scary movies, and playing with her three cats, Tuffy, Winnie, and Ellie. 

Welcome the new veterinary students!


Please welcome our new 2023 summer veterinary students for VMSRTP (Veterinary Medical Scientist Research Training Program): Kelsey O’Hara, Carmen Volz, Diane Briceno, and Mary Schech (Left to Right). Check out their individual biographies on the team webpage to find out more about their individual research interests! We are excited for they are joining the Verocai lab!

If you are first or second year veterinary student and interested in joining our team through the VMSRTP, you can fill out a application at: https://vetmed.tamu.edu/vmsrtp/.