Director of the McGill School of Environment
Macdonald Campus, McGill University
21,111 Lakeshore Road
Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Qc, H9X 3V9
The long-term objective of my research program is to understand host-parasite population dynamics using experimental and field epidemiology and theoretical studies. Through my research, I explore factors relevant to, and consequences of, parasite control methods applied at the level of the host population or community.
Much of my research over the past 12 years has focussed on the nutrition-parasite-immunity complex. In collaboration with Dr. Kris Koski of the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, McGill University, students, and other collaborators, we have undertaken experimental studies on the consequences of restriction of zinc, protein, vitamin A and energy deficiency, and components of fiber, in isolation and in combination, using the Heligmosomoides polygyrus (Nematoda) mouse model. Our current studies consider the effects of protein re-feeding as a means to improve the ability of the host to manage parasitic infections, the effects of energy restriction in a semi-natural mouse population setting, and the effects of zinc and/or Vitamin A supplementation on re-infection rates in Panamanian children (in collaboration with Dr. Eduardo Ortega, University of Panama). We have recently prepared three major review articles that provide an overview of our accomplishments in this field, and will be have been invited to present our work at the upcoming FASEB Summer Research Conference "The Impact of Nutritional Status on Immune Function and Health".
We have just begun a program investigating the effect of waterborne zinc on Gyrodactylus turnbulli, an ectoparasite of guppies. We are testing various concentrations of zinc in the water to determine whether parasite reproduction and survival are improved or impaired.
We have just completed a study on the effects of parasitic infection on mate choice in mice, in studies ranging from odour preference of females for uninfected or infected males, mating choices of females when presented with tethered male mice, and mating choices in a free-running arena setting.
In the past, I have studied the population dynamics of H. polygyrus in free-running mouse populations, the transmission dynamics of infection, the role of parasites in regulating host population abundance, the factors that "predispose" certain individuals to heavy infection, and the genetics of host susceptibility or resistance to infection.
In the past, my lab has been involved in a series of studies on the ecological changes associated with evolution of drug resistance in gastrointestinal nematodes, both in the mouse-model system, and also in sheep parasites.
We have also been involved in a number of community-based projects in developing countries including a study to evaluate the relative effectiveness of various control strategies in managing intestinal nematode infections in humans in Dominica and in sheep and goats in Kenya, a health education program in Guatemala, and a study of parasite transmission patterns in the Republic of Congo (previously Zaire) and in Mexico.