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K-State Today

April 12, 2013



Entomologist presents prestigious invited lecture in New Mexico

By John Ruberson

Marcelo Ramalho-Ortigao, associate professor of entomology at Kansas State University, was selected to deliver the third annual Joseph V. Scaletti Catalyst Lecture at the University of New Mexico, hosted by the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center’s Clinical and Translational Science Center, on April 12.

According to a University of New Mexico press release, "Each year, the Catalyst Lecture features an individual, institution or idea responsible for accelerating the rate of positive change and forward progress in the areas of biomedical research, healthcare education, or health care delivery."

Ortigao has built an internationally recognized research program studying the pathogen-vector–host relationships of the disease Leishmaniasis. The disease-causing protozoan is carried to its vertebrate hosts, including humans, by biting sand flies in tropical and subtropical regions of the globe.

It is believed to affect about 12 million people worldwide, with more than a million new cases occurring annually. Ortigao is exploring the relationship of the pathogen with its sand-fly vector in efforts to target the molecular interactions between the two for disease control. Severing or disrupting the molecular interactions may prevent parasite development within the vectoring fly, or disrupt the ability of the fly to transmit the protozoan pathogen. His work has yielded important insights into the relationship between the fly and pathogen, and into novel and effective possibilities for control of this devastating disease.

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