Mary Ann McDowell

Department of Biological Sciences


With a research interest in the immunobiology of infectious diseases, Mary Ann McDowell of the Department of Biological Sciences is also a member of Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health.

Projects in Prof. McDowell’s laboratory are aimed at deciphering the intricate interactions between the vertebrate immune system, pathogens, and vector components that lead to disease resistance or susceptibility. Her research utilizes methods in cell biology, immunology, and molecular biology, and she employs a variety of model systems ranging from in vitro culture systems to murine models to endemic human populations.

Prof. McDowell’s current research program focuses on two vector-transmitted, intracellular parasites: Leishmania (leishmaniasis) and Plasmodium (malaria). While malaria is widely recognized as a critical global health problem, the disease leishmaniasis is not as well known. Yet, the World Health Organization estimates that it threatens about 350 million men, women, and children in 88 countries around the world, with a primary locus in the Middle East. Currently, as many as 12 million people are believed to be infected, with about 1–2 million new cases occurring every year. Some of those infected are soldiers serving in the U.S. armed forces.

Prof. McDowell’s work is interdisciplinary in nature—in addition to colleagues such as Prof. Frank Collins in the Department of Biological Sciences, researchers involved include Profs. Jesus Izaguirre and Scott Emrich of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering

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