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Current Members


Igor Cestari, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator


Assistant Professor,

Institute of Parasitology, McGill University (website)
Associate Member, Department of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine, McGill University (website)

William Dawson Scholar 

Igor has a BSc. in biology with a specialty in genetics and MSc. and Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology.


Lissa Cruz-Saavedra, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Researcher

Chagas disease vaccine and drug discovery

Lissa works on drug and vaccine discovery for Chagas disease. She also works studying signalling and regulatory processes underlying the control of antigenic variation in T. brucei.


Oksana Kutova, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Researcher

Chromatin interaction analysis of telomeric expression sites in trypanosomes

Oksana obtained her Ph.D. in Physical and Biomedical Electronics in Kiev working on the development of biosensors. She studies the three-dimensional organization of telomeric expression site chromatin and nuclear compartmentalization in T. brucei.


Tony Isebe

Graduate Student

Mapping TESC interactions using cross-link and mass spectrometry

Tony investigates the composition and topology of the Telomeric Expression Site Complex (TESC) using genetics, mass spectrometry, and microscopy approaches. He also investigates the role of nuclear lamina proteins in telomeric expression sites compartmentalization and VSG expression.


Mengjin Gao

Graduate Student

Phosphoinositide signalling and antigenic switching in trypanosomes

Jin investigates phosphoinositide signalling in trypanosomes with a focus on PI3Ks and nuclear signalling. He uses yeast surface display to identify phosphoinositide binding proteins and genetic and biochemical approaches in trypanosomes to dissect the role of phosphoinositide in VSG expression and switching.


Abdoulie Touray

Graduate Student

Signalling regulation of antigenic variation in trypanosomes

Abdoulie is interested in genetics, mass spectrometry, and single-cell sequencing to study phosphoinositide signalling and the regulatory mechanisms underlying the control of VSG expression and switching in T. brucei.

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Mira Loock

Graduate Student

Identifying vaccine targets for Chagas disease using yeast surface display

Mira works on the discovery of new epitopes for Chagas disease vaccines. She uses yeast surface display to express T. cruzi genome-wide libraries and combines flow cytometry and nanopore sequencing to screen for epitopes recognized by antibodies from patients with Chagas disease. Mira uses experimental approaches to validate new antigens as candidates for a Chagas disease vaccine.


Larsen Iorgovits

Graduate student

Mechanisms of telomeric expression site activation in trypanosomes

Larsen investigates how phosphoinositide signalling regulates transcription of telomeric expression sites, which is important for T. brucei immune evasion by antigenic variation. He focuses on the proteins that control the monogenic transcription of VSG genes and the expression site compartmentalization.  

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Natalie Warren

Graduate student

Protein post-translational modifications in plant-biotic interactions.

Natalie is interested in protein post-translational regulation of enzymes in the jasmonate biosynthesis pathway. Jasmonates are phytohormones involved in plant defence signalling to necrotrophic pathogens and chewing herbivores. She is identifying enzyme post-translational modifications and the responsible kinase and phosphatase enzymes in the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana.

Supervised by Dr. Jacquie Bede, Plant Science

Co-supervised by Dr. Igor Cestari


Luiza Berenguer Antunes

Graduate student

Chromatin organization and nuclear compartments

Luiza is working on genome organization and chromatin compartmentalization. She uses chromatin conformation capture experiments, computational biology, and microscopy analysis to understand the organization of silent vs actively transcribed regions in trypanosomes.

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