Joao Pedra, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, did his graduate work at Purdue University with Dr. Barry Pittendrigh. Dr. Pedra' postdoctoral studies, with Dr. Erol Fikrig at Yale University School of Medicine, dealt with microbial pathogenesis, immunity and vector transmission of the rickettsial agent Anaplasma phagocytophilum. He joined the University of California at Riverside in 2009 and subsequently relocated to the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Medicine in 2013. Dr. Pedra is presently working on the mechanisms of pathogenesis, immunity and disease transmission of rickettsial agents.
The Pedra laboratory studies immunity, pathogenesis and disease transmission by rickettsial agents. Three broad questions are under investigation: i) What are the mechanisms of pathogen immunity in the mammalian host and the arthropod vector? ii) Is innate immunity evolutionarily conserved in disease vectors and mammals? iii) What are the molecular and cellular events that enable pathogens to evade host and vector immunity? We envisage that deciphering these underlying mechanisms may lead to the development of novel strategies that prevent or delay the onset of arthropod-borne diseases.