Dr María A Duque-Correa | Marie Sklowdoska-Curie / NC3Rs Fellow

Dr María A, Duque-Correa

I am an independent fellow working at the Parasite Genomics team and funded by a Marie Sklodowska-Curie and a NC3Rs David Sainsbury fellowships. I am very passionate about understanding host-pathogen interactions and immune responses that develop during infectious diseases. To do this, I make use of my extensive knowledge on in vitro and in vivo models of these diseases and exploit microscopy, cellular and molecular biology techniques.

I am convinced the best way to generate innovative and impactful research on infectious diseases is to work in collaboration with experts on diverse areas. In my current research, I lead projects studying host gut epithelia and whipworms (Trichuris sp.) interactions. This work is possible through the collaboration with Professor Richard Grencis and Professor David Thorton and their groups at the University of Manchester, Dr Peter Nejsum at Aarhus University (Denmark) and Dr Amy Buck at the University of Edinburgh.

Whipworm infection causes the neglected tropical disease Trichuriasis, which affects millions of children around the world. Infection occurs by ingestion of whipworm eggs which, upon arrival to the gut, hatch and liberate larvae that burrows through the gut epithelia. My goal is to more fully understand the initial stages of the epithelia infection by the larvae, a crucial step that determines whether the worms are expelled or remain in the gut causing chronic disease. In the long term, this knowledge will help to develop vaccines and discover drugs to fight whipworm infections.

To study the responses of both, the gut epithelia and the whipworm, during early infection of mice with Trichuris muris, I use single-cell transcriptomics, proteomics and microscopy. Moreover, I am developing a new model to investigate these interactions using cecal organoids and microinjecting them with whipworm larvae. This technique will potentially replace mouse infection models and facilitate a better understanding of human disease. In the future, I expect the organoid system can be applied to study the interaction of the epithelia with other parasitic worms that cause important neglected tropical diseases.

Additionally, as part of the Infection and Immunity Immunophenotyping (3i) consortium and together with the University of Manchester, I lead the challenge of hundreds of different mouse knock-out strains with whipworms to identify genes that are crucial in the immune response to this nematode.

Complementary to my scientific work are the activities of public engagement in which I am working together the Genome Campus Public Engagement team. Through these activities I spread the word on the importance of the research to battle Trichuriasis that we are doing at the Sanger. Currently, I am involved in the Genome Decoders Project, in which together with the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS), we are bringing together scientists with A-level students to annotate the genome of the human whipworm. Moreover, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Antioquia (Colombia), I am currently developing a public engagement strategy to work with whipworm infected children and their families in an area of the Colombian Caribbean that presents high prevalence of Trichuriasis.

Publications

  • NOS2-deficient mice with hypoxic necrotizing lung lesions predict outcomes of tuberculosis chemotherapy in humans.

    Gengenbacher M, Duque-Correa MA, Kaiser P, Schuerer S, Lazar D et al.

    Scientific reports 2017;7;1;8853

  • Infection Susceptibility in Gastric Intrinsic Factor (Vitamin B12)-Defective Mice Is Subject to Maternal Influences.

    Mottram L, Speak AO, Selek RM, Cambridge EL, McIntyre Z et al.

    mBio 2016;7;3

  • Interferon-driven alterations of the host's amino acid metabolism in the pathogenesis of typhoid fever.

    Blohmke CJ, Darton TC, Jones C, Suarez NM, Waddington CS et al.

    The Journal of experimental medicine 2016;213;6;1061-77

  • Individual T helper cells have a quantitative cytokine memory.

    Helmstetter C, Flossdorf M, Peine M, Kupz A, Zhu J et al.

    Immunity 2015;42;1;108-22

  • Macrophage arginase-1 controls bacterial growth and pathology in hypoxic tuberculosis granulomas.

    Duque-Correa MA, Kühl AA, Rodriguez PC, Zedler U, Schommer-Leitner S et al.

    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2014;111;38;E4024-32

  • Activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome by Mycobacterium tuberculosis is uncoupled from susceptibility to active tuberculosis.

    Dorhoi A, Nouailles G, Jörg S, Hagens K, Heinemann E et al.

    European journal of immunology 2012;42;2;374-84

  • Stable extracellular RNA fragments of Mycobacterium tuberculosis induce early apoptosis in human monocytes via a caspase-8 dependent mechanism.

    Obregón-Henao A, Duque-Correa MA, Rojas M, García LF, Brennan PJ et al.

    PloS one 2012;7;1;e29970

  • B7-H1 expression on old CD8+ T cells negatively regulates the activation of immune responses in aged animals.

    Mirza N, Duque MA, Dominguez AL, Schrum AG, Dong H and Lustgarten J

    Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) 2010;184;10;5466-5474

  • A micro-spreading improvement for spermatogenic chromosomes from Triatominae (Hemiptera-Reduviidae).

    Camargo M, Duque-Correa MA and Berrío A

    Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz 2006;101;3;339-40

Career/Research Highlights

Dr María A, Duque-Correa
María's Timeline
2017

NC3Rs David Sainsbury Fellow, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

2015

Marie Sklowdoska-Curie Fellow, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

2014

Postdoctoral Fellow, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

2013

Postdoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Germany

PhD (Dr. rer. nat), Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Germany

2008

Special Project Associate, Mayo Clinic, USA

2007

Biology B.Sc., Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia