Biology Students Travel to Brazil for Unique Opportunity


Nick Geraci, a fourth year doctoral student and Eck Institute for Global Health Fellow, and Rachel Cotton, a Junior Biological Sciences major will be in Brazil to attend the Woods Hole Biology of Parasitism Course in November.  The course will address the molecular basis of protozoan and helminth infections with a special emphasis on host/parasite interactions.

Both Geraci and Cotton are working under the guidance of Mary Ann McDowell, PhD, who serves as the Chair of the Faculty Committee for the Eck Institute for Global Health and whose own research focuses mainly on two vector-transmitted, intracellular parasites, Leishmania and Plasmodium.

Nick Geraci received his BS in Biology from the College of Mount Saint Joseph, Cincinnati, Ohio (2002) and a MS degree in Entomology, with a concentration in Genomics, from Purdue University (2006). Geraci also spent time working in bio-medical research laboratories before arriving at Notre Dame in 2009. His current work includes a myriad of projects investigating the immunoparasitology of host-vector-parasite interactions, in the context of leishmaniasis transmission and infections, with a focus on the role of microRNAs as immunological pathway regulating molecules. He was honored as an Eck Institute for Global Health Fellow in 2012.

Rachel Cotton joined the McDowell lab as a freshman in 2010 and studies the mechanism by which Leishmania major inhibits IL-12 transcription in host macrophages. Cotton has completed research internships at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, Washington University in Saint Louis, and most recently, in the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases at NIAID where she investigated the innate immune response in the epidermis to the filarial parasite Brugia malayi. She is the Co-Editor in Chief of Scientia, Notre Dame’s Undergraduate Journal of Scientific Research and works with the Eck Institute for Global Health to organize undergraduate research activities. Rachel intends to pursue a PhD in immunology and pathogenesis after Notre Dame.

The Eck Institute for Global Health is a university-wide enterprise that recognizes health as a fundamental human right and endeavors to promote research, training, and service to advance health standards for all people, especially people in low and middle-income countries, who are disproportionately impacted by preventable diseases.