Hernan Lorenzi, PhD

Assistant Professor


301-795-7560

Bio

My research is focused on understanding how prtotozoan parasites and bacteria evolve and interact with the human host to cause disease. To accomplish this goal my lab uses a combination of next generation sequencing technologies and bioinformatics approaches to elucidate the effect of microbial, parasite and host genetics on human disease, and to assist in the development of vaccines and novel therapeutic treatments. I have lead several NIAID-funded studies to characterize the genomes and assess the population diversity of human pathogens and related organism, including Cryptosporidium muris, Toxoplasma gondii, Hammondia hammondi, Gragarina niphandrodes and hundreds of strains of different Paramyxovirus species. I have also played a main role in the annotation and analysis of several human parasites including Plasmodium vivax, Trypanosoma cruzi and several Entamoeba species and developed novel sequence analysis pipelines.

Currently my lab is applying high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatics analyses to study host-pathogen interactions in Toxoplasmosis and protective immunity in Malaria using whole genome sequencing, mRNA/miRNA transcriptomics, 16S and SNP analyses, comparative genomics and chemical mutagenesis. In addition, we are carrying out a number of studies to investigate the role of the microbiome on Human health, including two projects funded by NASA to evaluate the impact of long-term space travel on the Astronauts’ microbiome and to investigate the effect of different kinds of diet on the Astronauts’ microbiome and health.

Research Priorities

Elucidation of molecular mechanisms of host-parasite interaction in Toxoplasmosis.

  • Identification of novel molecular targets for the development of antiparasitic drugs using parasite mutagenesis. genome sequencing, SNP analysis and RNAseq.
  • Genomic characterization of Toxoplasma gondii worldwide diversity and its association with parasite’s virulence.
  • Genome sequencing and comparative genomics of apicomplexan parasites of diverse host range.

Study of molecular determinants of Malaria immunity.

  • Transcripomics analysis of the human immune response during experiental and natural infections with Plasnmodium falciparum.
  • Human-microbiome interaction and its protective role against P. falciparum infection.

Characterization of human-microbiome interactions and their impact on human health.

  • Study of the effect of long-term space travel on the Astronauts’ microbiome and health.
  • Amelioration of the negative effects of stressors associated with space travel on the Astronauts’ microbiome and immune response throught the diet.
  • Human genetics and its influence on the gastrointestinal microbiome.
NextGen sequencing reveals short double crossovers contribute disproportionately to genetic diversity in Toxoplasma gondii.
BMC genomics. 2014-12-23; 15.1168.
PMID: 25532601
The genome and transcriptome of the enteric parasite Entamoeba invadens, a model for encystation.
Genome biology. 2013-07-26; 14.7: R77.
PMID: 23889909
Metagenomic exploration of viruses throughout the Indian Ocean.
PloS one. 2012-01-01; 7.3: e42047.
PMID: 23082107
TheViral MetaGenome Annotation Pipeline(VMGAP):an automated tool for the functional annotation of viral Metagenomic shotgun sequencing data.
Standards in genomic sciences. 2011-07-01; 4.3: 418-29.
PMID: 21886867
New assembly, reannotation and analysis of the Entamoeba histolytica genome reveal new genomic features and protein content information.
PLoS neglected tropical diseases. 2010-06-15; 4.6: e716.
PMID: 20559563
Genome wide survey, discovery and evolution of repetitive elements in three Entamoeba species.
BMC genomics. 2008-12-10; 9.595.
PMID: 19077187
The VIPER elements of trypanosomes constitute a novel group of tyrosine recombinase-enconding retrotransposons.
Molecular and biochemical parasitology. 2006-02-01; 145.2: 184-94.
PMID: 16297462