Monica Cartelle Gestal

Postdoctoral Research Award 2019

Monica Cartelle Gestal, a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Infectious Diseases, has developed critical expertise in host-pathogen interactions of Bordetella spp., the bacteria that produce pertussis. Whooping cough, as it’s more commonly known, was designated a priority emergence infectious disease by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in 2015. Among the reasons for its rise is that the current vaccine efficiently protects against disease but not colonization or transmission. Cartelle Gestal has proposed a novel approach for vaccine and therapeutic development, focusing on the bacteria’s ability to manipulate the host response. Her work, recently submitted to Science, demonstrates that Bordetella spp. have the ability to sense the host’s response and manipulate immune signals in order to dampen adaptive immunity and increase persistence. Her research has produced a novel Bordetella spp. vaccine that has been submitted for patent and currently is being tested for dogs and cats.