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Reducing the Impact of Infectious Diseases by Supporting Trans-Disciplinary Academic Research


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Cristian Danna

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Cristian Danna is an Assistant Professor who joined the Department of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences in 2014. During his postdoctoral training at Harvard University, Dr. Danna acquired extensive experience in plant innate immunity, plant defense and the genetics and chemistry of plant-made small compounds with antimicrobial properties. The Danna lab studies the antimicrobial defense responses associated with the production of plant-made small compounds. Most of these small compounds are produced in large amounts only after the onset of defense. The Danna lab has assembled a large collection of mutants of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana in which the synthesis of some of these small compounds is compromised. The Danna lab uses this collection of mutants to screen for compounds that suppress the growth of human pathogenic bacterial and/or interfere with virulence mechanisms associated with bacterial pathogenesis in humans. The rational supporting the use of Arabidopsis mutants is based in the fact that organic extracts obtained from wild type plants have antimicrobial properties against Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an activity that is missing in the organic extracts of mutants in which the synthesis of a particular class of small compounds is compromised. This information is used to narrow down the final identification of small compounds with antimicrobial activity.

Ashley Deeks

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Ashley Deeks is an Associate Professor in the Law School, and a Senior Fellow at the Center for National Security Law. Her primary research and teaching interests are in the areas of international law, national security, intelligence, and the laws of war. She has written articles on the use of force, the intersection of national security and international law, and the laws of war. She is a member of the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Law and serves as a senior contributor to the Lawfare blog, one of the leading blogs addressing hard national security issues. She has written extensively about the role of non-state terrorist groups and international efforts to counter terrorist threats. These threats include efforts to obtain nuclear materials and chemical and biological weapons for use against civilian populations.

Zygmunt Derewenda

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Zygmunt Derewenda is a Professor in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics. Dr. Derewenda is a structural biologist with expertise in protein structure/function studies, with specific emphasis on high-resolution investigations using X-ray crystallography. Several of his projects have been focused on proteins derived from pathogenic bacteria and viruses, and contributed to either better understanding of molecular mechanisms of pathogenicity, or drug discovery efforts. The proteins that were studied include the Yersinia pestis V-antigen, an essential virulence factor in cholera, and the C-terminal domain of the nucleoprotein from the Ebola virus.

Isabelle Derre

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Isabelle Derré is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology. Dr. Derré uses microbiology, cellular biology and experimental approaches to study molecular mechanisms underlying the interaction between pathogens and their mammalian host. Her laboratory studies Chlamydia trachomatis, a gram-negative bacterial pathogen of tremendous public health concern. Ocular serovars lead to trachoma and genital serovars are the leading cause of bacterial sexually transmitted disease in developed countries. In women, Chlamydia genital infections are often asymptomatic and if left untreated sequelae range from damage of the fallopian tubes, long term pelvic and abdominal pain, ectopic pregnancy and infertility. Since case rates are not declining and reinfection rates are increasing, and since a vaccine is not available, Chlamydia infections remain therefore a global health concern. The Derré group investigates how Chlamydia trachomatis has evolved to manipulate the eukaryotic cell and establish an intracellular niche favorable for survival and replication. Her approaches combine cell biology, molecular biology, microbiology and confocal microscopy techniques together with the newly developed genetic tools for Chlamydia. Overall, the Derré laboratory seeks to further the understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the infection process to reveal novel drug targets and facilitate the translational research development of tools to prevent, treat and control Chlamydia infection.

Rebecca Dillingham

Rebecca Dillingham

E. Franklin Dukes

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E. Franklin Dukes, Ph.D. is a mediator and facilitator with the Institute for Engagement & Negotiation at the University of Virginia. He founded University & Community Action for Racial Equity (UCARE) to address UVA’s legacy of slavery and white supremacy, leads IEN’s “Transforming Community Spaces” project helping communities transform problematic spaces, led community engagement as a member of the design team for UVA’s Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, and was a member of Charlottesville’s Commission on Race, Memorials and Public Spaces determining the fate of the City’s Confederate statues. He has worked on numerous health-related issues including drinking water, rural health, and tobacco, and currently assists the Health Equity & Access Rural Region (HEARR) project. He received his Ph.D. from GMU’s School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution in 1992.

Marcel Durieux

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I am Emeritus Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Virginia. I am a graduate of the School of Medicine at the University of Leiden (The Netherlands), and hold a PhD from the University of Maastricht (The Netherlands), based on research in inflammatory mediator signaling. I completed my residency in anesthesiology and a fellowship in molecular pharmacology at the University of Virginia, prior to joining the faculty there in 1994. For the next 6 years I directed an NIH-funded basic science research program, focused primarily on the effects of general and local anesthetics on receptor functioning. In 2000, I was recruited as Chair to the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Maastricht, The Netherlands, where I continued my basic science research.

In 2004, I returned to the University of Virginia to focus on clinical research. Most of my initial studies tested the findings obtained through our basic science models in the clinical setting, with exploration of inflammatory modulating by local anesthetics as the primary area of interest. This naturally expanded into clinical research in other areas related to improvement in postoperative outcomes by perioperative interventions. In the global setting, this has translated into an interest in infection control postoperatively and in the ICU.


Although I retired from clinical work at the beginning of 2018, I am still actively involved in clinical research and mentorship, as well as in global health activities.

I have published more than 200 peer-reviewed articles, as well as numerous book chapters. I have given close to 100 national and international lectures on both clinical and research topics. I have trained more than 20 postdoctoral research fellows and 7 PhD students. I have served on several American Society of Anesthesiologists committees and subcommittees, including the Committee on Research. I am a past member of the board of directors of the International Society for Anesthetic Pharmacology and the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation. I have been Associate Editor for the journal Anesthesiology, and Section Editor for Preclinical Pharmacology for Anesthesia and Analgesia. I have served on the editorial boards of Anesthesia and Analgesia (as Senior Editor), Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, Best Practice and Research: Clinical Anaesthesiology, and still serve on the board of the Southern African Journal of Anaesthesia and Analgesia. I have served as ad-hoc reviewer for more than 50 other journals.