Neuroscience at Nottingham
 

Hany Elsheikha

Professor of Interdisciplinary Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences

Contact

Biography

Hany Elsheikha is a Professor of Interdisciplinary Parasitology in the global health department in School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham (SVMS-UoN). Hany is also a European Veterinary Parasitology College diplomate, a European Scientific Counsel Companion Animal Parasites member and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He earned his PhD from Michigan State University for research performed on the molecular evolution of the causative agent of equine protozoal myeloencephalitis. He was awarded the prestigious American Society for Microbiology (ASM)/National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID) Postdoctoral Fellowship. Since joining SVMS-UoN, he has been spearheading the development and delivery of parasitology teaching. Also, he has established a multidisciplinary research programme focused on decoding the interkingdom chemical communication between the host cells and neuropathogenic protozoan parasites, with a special interest in Toxoplasma gondii. Key areas of interest include host-parasite interaction, anti-parasitic drug discovery, parasite evolution and parasites of public health impacts. He has published more than 270 peer-reviewed papers and many other articles in professional magazines and science communication journals. Hany has published 8 books in veterinary, tropical and medical parasitology for students, residents and professionals.

Expertise Summary

I support the aims of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham by creating a teaching and learning environment with the highest academic standards for both PG and UG students. Innovative development of this environment is on-going and includes an integrated veterinary parasitology module and a multidisciplinary research and training programme.

Teaching Summary

Innovation and forward-looking vision of where the veterinary medical education is heading is the main drive of my philosophy in teaching. My educational research focuses on technology-aided… read more

Research Summary

My research interests include host-pathogen interaction, anti-parasitic drug discovery and evolutionary aspects of parasitic diseases at the animal-public health interface. We use a multidisciplinary… read more

Innovation and forward-looking vision of where the veterinary medical education is heading is the main drive of my philosophy in teaching. My educational research focuses on technology-aided curriculum development and student assessment in active learning formats [J. Vet. Med. Educ. 2009, 36(3):291-296], and teaching students in the digital age [Med. Educ. 2013, 47(5):518-519]. I constantly develop new ways of stimulating curiosity in my students. I developed iPad and iPhone applications and use latest audio-visual (AV) and digital technologies as well as online resources to motivate students and enhance their learning experience. These resources are used to supplement didactic lectures to create more interactive/engaging atmosphere and to foster problem-based and situated learning.

I am in charge of teaching and convening the whole integrated clinical and veterinary parasitology curriculum to the Nottingham Veterinary students. I instruct graduate and veterinary students in parasitology, zoonotic diseases, public health, clinical diagnostics, and parasite pathogenesis. Also, I direct examination, teaching and tutoring of students in the Vet School.

I realized the need of vet students for a new textbook in parasitology that suits their style of learning, and this was the drive behind my enthusiasm to publish 2 textbooks, "Essentials of Veterinary Parasitology" and "Self-Assessment Colour Review Veterinary Parasitology", to help students to learn the subject in an easy and more effective manner. Comments published by peers about the books have been extremely positive (http://www.horizonpress.com/veterinary-parasitology).

Current Research

My research interests include host-pathogen interaction, anti-parasitic drug discovery and evolutionary aspects of parasitic diseases at the animal-public health interface. We use a multidisciplinary approach to investigate contemporary problems in parasite biology, pathogenesis and therapeutics. Main areas of current research activity are listed below.

1. Neuroparasitology. Primary requirements in neurological infections due to protozoan parasites include hematogenous spread, followed by parasite invasion of the central nervous system. However, it is not clear how do these organisms cross the blood-brain barrier leading to neurologic dysfunction. We investigate the mechanism by which the protozoan parasites Neospora caninum breaches this barrier by interacting with the brain microvascular endothelial cells, which constitute the blood-brain barrier.

2. Modeling and molecular biology of parasitic diseases. The aim of this research focus is to develop alternative animal models to understand host/pathogen interactions, and for the development of new diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for parasitic diseases. We developed an experimental invertebrate model to replace the use of rodents in elucidating the pathophysiology of toxoplasmosis and neosporiosis, a leading cause of abortion and infertility problems in farm animals. This research aims at employing therapeutic modalities to interrupt the development of these parasitic infections.

3. Plasticity of Neospora caninum and bradyzoite-tachyzopite switching. Neosporosis is a parasitic disease caused by the protozoan parasite Neospora caninum. In the last two decades, N. caninum has been widely recognized as one of the most frequently diagnosed cause of infectious abortion, stillbirth, and maternal infertility in cattle and neurological disease in various animal species. To survive in the host, N. caninum has the ability to convert to cystic form with a thick capsule both in vivo and in vitro using a poorly understood pathway, this may partly explains the difficulties in the treatment of this infection. Switching between bradyzoite and tachyzoite stages is the key step in the pathogenesis of N. caninum infection. Despite attempts to investigate this biological phenomenon, it is evidenced today that this switching process is a highly concerted multistep process requiring a variety of molecular interactions between parasite, mammalian host cells and environmental factors. Additionally, there is not enough knowledge on the biological, biochemical and biophysical properties of membrane/cyst wall of N. caninum bradyzoite stage and their structure function relationships. This project aims to obtain in depth knowledge on the mechanism and factors involved in the transformation between bradyzoite and tachyzoite stages of N. caninum.

4. Molecular pathogenesis and stress tolerance in Toxoplasma gondii. I study host-pathogen interactions that occur during the establishment of intracellular infection by T. gondii in response to stress. As the causative agent of toxoplasmosis disease in humans and animals, T. gondii represents an important public health and economic problem worldwide, where at least third of the world population are infected. While recent advances in the field have provided a new paradigm for parasite survival within the host cell, little is known regarding the molecular and cellular events required to shape a tolerant host cell environment for intracellular development and endurance of this pathogen. It is the understanding of these basic processes that will guide our efforts toward effective prevention or control of toxoplasmosis disease.

5. Educational research. My educational research focuses on developing new ways of stimulating curiosity in students.

Past Research

1. Molecular epidemiology and evolution of Sarcocytsis neurona in horses and opossums. I integrated field and molecular biology methodologies to study the epidemiology and evolutionary genetics of S. neurona, the etiologic agent of equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) in horses in the Americas. This research work was hypothesis-based. The key question was: Dose S. neurona have a clonal population structure? To answer this question, new methodologies were developed and various approaches were used to unravel the S. neurona genetic structure in natural populations. These studies included the assembly of a large collection of S. neurona strains and other cyst-forming coccidia, development of methods for purification of the sporocyst stage from intestinal cells of opossums and the merozoite stage from tissue culture and the use of DNA sequencing of the ribosomal gene and major surface antigen gene as well as sequence of the 25/396 diagnostic marker. Whole-genome fingerprinting analysis was also used to develop "species identity" or "genetic fingerprint" for S. neurona strains. These methods were applied to characterize the available Sarcocystis strains that have been assessed by preliminary phenotypic and molecular marker methods such as PCR-RFLP as "neurona-like".

2. Therapeutic efficacy of Sarcocystis neurona-specific IgG monoclonal antibodies against equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) in mice model. In this project a panel of IgG monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) was evaluated in tissue culture systems and by using Gamma-Interferon-gene-Knockout (IFN-γ-KO) mice lacking the functional gene for gamma interferon. This study revealed that the IgG response can impede the establishment of infective S. neurona parasites in the mouse and these MAbs are candidate molecules for immunotherapy of S. neurona infection in horses. The potential for use of multiple antigens as protective immunogens in preventing S. neurona infection was raised.

3. Research on besnoitiosis in donkeys and opossums. I isolated Besnoitia bennetti, which forms cysts in the connective tissues of equids (Equus asinus) for the first time from Michigan and for the second time from North America. The first-ever genetic description of Besnoitia bennetti was achieved in association with the study of an epidemic on a Michigan donkey farm. I isolated Besnoitia darlingi from opossums (Didelphis virginiana) for the first time from Michigan, developed methods for its continuous in vitro culture, developed laboratory animal model of the disease, and testing chemotherapeutic agents in cell cultures.

Neuroscience at Nottingham

The University of Nottingham
Address line two
Nottingham, postcode


telephone: +44 (0) 115 XXX XXXX
email: research-group-email@nottingham.ac.uk