Professor Photini Sinnis - School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University

Image: Johns Hopkins University Professor Photini Sinnis

Malaria sporozoite biology at the dermal inoculation site.

 

Hosted by: Professor Ian Cockburn

 

Abstract

Malaria infection is initiated when mosquitoes inoculate sporozoites into the skin. Sporozoites are actively motile and must exit the inoculation site to go to the liver where they initiate the next stage of infection. I will discuss recent findings on sporozoite motility which is likely critical to escape the host’s innate immune response in the skin.

 

Biography

Professor Photini Sinnis holds a joint appointment in medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology with a joint appointment in biochemistry and molecular biology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her research focuses on infectious diseases. Professor Sinnis serves as the deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Her team is currently engaged in studying the sporozoite stage of Plasmodium, which is the infective stage of the malaria parasite. Her research focuses on the infective stage of the malaria parasite, sporozoites, which are inoculated into the skin by infected mosquitoes. Sporozoites make an impressive journey from the midgut wall of the mosquito where they emerge from oocysts, to their final destination, the mammalian liver (see picture below). Using biochemical, cell biological, and genetic approaches as well as intravital imaging and proteomics, her team aim to understand the molecular interactions between sporozoites and their mosquito and mammalian hosts that enable the parasite to initiate infection. The team has also begun to define the quantitative dynamics of sporozoite transmission and demonstrate for the first time that mosquito parasite burden is critical to onward transmission success. A major goal of her studies is to gain a better understanding of sporozoite-host interactions that can be used to validate new drug targets and vaccine strategies and to understand the quantitative aspects of transmission to build better epidemiological models to inform intervention strategies.

Professor Sinnis received her B.A. from Swarthmore College and her M.D. from Dartmouth College. She completed her residency at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, she was an associate professor at the New York University School of Medicine in the Department of Medical Parasitology and the Department of Medicine.