Danielle Pessôa-Pereira

Danielle Pessôa-Pereira, Postdoctoral scholar, epidemiology

Protects people and animals from Lyme disease

“Dani is one of the hardest working people I know, she loves her work and loves sharing it with others. She’s absolutely brilliant and deserves to be featured.” -Karen Cyndari, emergency medicine fellow, Petersen Lab

Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Faculty mentor/advisor:
Christine Petersen, DVM, PhD, professor, epidemiology, College of Public Health

What is your degree program and anticipated graduation date?
Postdoctoral research scholar, 2024

Please describe your research:
My research is focused on understanding the immune changes that happen during progression of two infectious diseases: leishmaniasis and Lyme disease. Both diseases are transmitted through vectors (sand flies and ticks, respectively) from animals to humans. I am dedicated to studying immune cells from animals that have been naturally infected in their home environment, and how these cells change function to cause or stop inflammation. The alterationsin the immune cell functions affect the disease progression, and possibly transmission to other animals, including humans.

In simple terms, why does this research matter?
My research group is committed to learning how best to protect people and animals from vector-borne diseases. Leishmaniasis and Lyme disease present similarly in both dogs and humans, making dogs good models for studying immune responses that might occur in humans. My studies contribute to identifying immune markers for predicting disease progression in dogs that could be used as targets for monitoring infection and therapies. Limiting and controlling Leishmania infections and Lyme disease in dogs paves the way for more effective prevention and treatment strategies to safeguard both dog and human populations.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research?
I had research opportunities immediately after starting my postdoctoral program, where I was able to start my own studies and collaborated with others.

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa?
The University of Iowa provided me with the perfect environment to further explore my creativity and intellectual independence, to improving my communication, decision-making, and soft skills, and work collaboratively with several internal and external groups.

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