Department of
Fall 2013 Newsletter
New to the Department
We are excited to welcome the two newest additions to the Department's faculty, Drs. Tonya Colpitts and Patricia Scaraffia, and feature them in this edition of the newsletter. Here's a bit about each of them:

Tonya Colpitts, PhD joined the Department earlier this month as an Assistant Professor. She comes to us from Yale University, where she worked as a post-doctoral fellow studying the interactions between dengue, West Nile and Yellow Fever viruses and mosquito host cell proteins. She says she was attracted to Tulane because she wanted to do quality research with skilled, talented people who also value life outside of the lab. When she's not in JBJ, Dr. Colpitts spends her time dancing (she's a classically trained ballerina!), playing tennis, sailing, and exploring the culinary institutions of New Orleans. Her husband Josh is a tennis pro, and they have a 6 month old son named Cameron and a cat, Dylan, who keep her busy. If you haven't yet had a chance to meet Dr. Colpitts, feel free to stop by her office in JBJ 514 and introduce yourself! One of her favorite parts of working in the lab has been collaboration, so if you have any project ideas, you should contact her.

Dr. Patricia Scaraffia has also joined us as an Assistant Professor. She has previously worked as a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona and is interested in unraveling the physiological, biochemical, and molecular basis underlying the regulation of nitrogen and carbon metabolism in mosquitoes. Dr. Scaraffia has always known that she belonged in the lab and has been working in the field of insect physiology and biochemistry since she was an undergraduate , eventually earning her PhD at the National University of Córdoba, in Córdoba, Argentina. She has been happily married for almost 15 years to her husband Walter, and when she has free time, you can find her traveling, cooking, gardening, or painting. Dr. Scaraffia says that she is excited to collaborate with her colleagues in DTM and hopes that they will enrich her understanding of vector biology and perhaps lead to novel methods of vector population control.
Student & Fellow Highlights
Doctoral student Mark Rider successfully defended his dissertation titled, "The Molecular Responses of Anopheles gambiae to O'Nyong-Nyong Virus Infection," and has accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Congrats, Mark!
Doctoral student Kristen Merino was selected to receive a travel award to the Immune Epitope Database User Workshop in La Jolla, California.
Congratulations to doctoral student Trevor Thompson for passing his preliminary exams!
DTM Happenings
Departmental retreat
Faculty, staff, post-doctoral fellows, and doctoral students gathered this summer to assess the Department's academic and research programs. It was a refreshing opportunity to come together outside of the workplace and have constructive discussions about the current status of the Department's efforts as well as the vision that will carry us into the future.
Another academic year
This Fall the Department welcomes a new class of MSPH, MPHTM, PhD, and Diploma Course students. This class truly represents the global nature of  DTM's research, with students coming from Sierra Leone, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Jordan, Zimbabwe, India, Thailand, and Sudan to study tropical medicine with our faculty. 
Fall picnic
Earlier this month the Department held its annual Fall picnic at Audubon Park. Faculty, staff, post-docs, students, and their families came together to enjoy food, drink, and games. Despite a sudden downpour, the event was a great success and provided an opportunity for those in the Department to know each other outside of the lab and the classroom. Check out photos from the picnic here
Establishment of new center
The Department played a central role in the formation of the newly-established Vector-Borne Infectious Disease Research Center. This Center will foster
collaboration between researchers in the fields of chemistry, infectious disease, biomolecular engineering, computational biology, and biochemistry, all united by their common interest in understanding the complexities of vector-borne pathogens. The investigators were granted newly-renovated lab and office space in the JBJ building. You can read more about these space renovations here

Recent DTM Publications
Li Y, Kumar N, Gopalakrishnan A, Ginocchio C, Manji R, Bythrow M, Lemieux B, Kong H. Detection and Species Identification of Malaria Parasites by Isothermal tHDA Amplification Directly from Human Blood without Sample Preparation.J Mol Diagn. 2013 Sep;15(5):634-41.

Kumar R, Nyakundi R, Kariuki T, Ozwara H, Nyamongo O, Mlambo G, Ellefsen B, Hannaman D, Kumar N. Functional evaluation of malaria Pfs25 DNA vaccine by in vivo electroporation in olive baboons. Vaccine. 2013 Jun 28;31(31):3140-7.

Reiter K, Mukhopadhyay D, Zhang H, Boucher L,
Kumar N, Bosch J, Matunis M. Identification of Biochemically Distinct Properties of the Small Ubiquitin-related Modifier (SUMO) Conjugation Pathway in
Plasmodium falciparum. Journal of Biological Chemistry. Vol. 228, No. 39, 2013 Sep 27; pp. 27724-36.
Alumni Spotlight
DTM alumnus returns to New Orleans
Kevin Caillouet, PhD recently accepted a Research Entomologist position with the St. Tammany Parish Mosquito Abatement District in Slidell, LA where he coordinates the arbovirology surveillance system and directs the research program. Caillouet earned his MSPH and his PhD in the Department of Tropical Medicine, studying under Dr. Dawn Wesson. During his time at Tulane, his research focused on the impacts of hurricane Katrina on mosquito populations and on West Nile virus transmission, documenting that human cases of West Nile neuroinvasive disease (the most severe manifestation of infection) sharply increased following the hurricane in the hurricane-affected region. He is now back in Louisiana and is looking to pick up some of the research themes that he started here during his time here in DTM. He hopes to add to the local knowledge-base of the ecology of West Nile virus and contribute to more efficient control of the pathogen. Any students interested in pursuing internships or special projects with the St. Tammany Parish Mosquito Abatement District can contact Dr. Caillouet at
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Have news that you would like to be included in the next newsletter? If so, e-mail Joni Emmons (