Postdoctoral Research Award 2020
Noelia Lander, a cellular biologist and postdoctoral researcher in the Center for Tropical & Emerging Global Diseases, has used her research to advance understanding of a dangerous parasite affecting millions of people worldwide. She adapted the CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing system for the study of Trypanosoma cruzi, a human parasite that causes Chagas disease. In widely cited research, she proved the usefulness of this new gene-editing system and its range of applications in T. cruzi, which historically had been difficult to manipulate. Dozens of Chagas molecular biology labs worldwide use her CRISPR/Cas9 strategy to study the parasite’s proteins, characterize its metabolic pathways, understand its biology and search for new chemotherapeutic targets. More recently, she has used her system to study protein function and calcium signaling in T. cruzi. She has trained laboratory personnel and students in scientific research and is currently conducting the mentored phase of an NIH Pathway to Independence Award.