Melisa Gualdrón-López

Melisa Gualdrón López

Assistant Professor

melisa.gualdronlopez [at] (Email)  |  Parasitology Building P-214

“My main goal in research is to figure out parasites biology and use that knowledge to help the most vulnerable people dealing with the diseases they cause. I am committed to train the next generation of scientists who can continue this mission.”

Dr. Gualdrón-López is currently recruiting highly motivated graduate students. If interested, please send your CV to melisa.gualdronlopez [at]


BSc (Universidad de los Andes, Venezuela)
MSc (Universidad de los Andes, Venezuela)
PhD (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium)

Short Bio

Professor Gualdrón-López is a molecular immunoparasitologist specialized in Trypanosomes and malaria parasites. She earned her BSc in Biology (2003) and Master's degree in Cell Biology (2005) from the Universidad de los Andes (Venezuela), focusing on the study of glycolytic enzymes of Leishmania mexicana. She later obtained a PhD in Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences (2012) from the Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium), studying glycosome biogenesis in Trypanosoma brucei. Her postdoctoral work includes research on T. cruzi glycosomal membrane proteins in Venezuela (2013) and investigating cellular immune mechanisms that regulate inflammation in Chagas disease at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil (2014). In 2016, she joined the Plasmodium Vivax and Exosome research group in Spain (ISGlobal), specializing in the study of extracellular vesicles (EVs) using in vivo models of Plasmodium vivax infection and patients’ samples to identify EV-associated antigens for vaccine development and disease biomarkers. Her research continued at the University of Alberta in Canada (2022) as a Research Associate, where she studied EVs in the context of P. falciparum placental malaria. In 2024, she became an Assistant Professor at McGill University's Institute of Parasitology, investigating the role of EVs in the context of malaria and Chagas disease in pregnancy.

Research Interests

I am fascinated by the sophisticated molecular strategies that co-evolved in both the parasites and their hosts. My studies of parasite biology and the host immune response directed my scientific interest toward the interface of host-parasite interactions. Following this direction, I recognize the emergence of EVs as messengers involved in the pathogenesis of infectious diseases and their potential as therapeutic agents and tools for diagnosis. I am interested in understanding the functions of EVs in the context of malaria and Chagas disease in pregnancy, particularly in the placenta, and use this knowledge to develop intervention strategies for improve disease control.

Current Research

During pregnancy, the fetus develops a new organ—the placenta—an adaptation crucial for its growth and development. In this complex organ, intricate intercellular communication controls maternal immune tolerance and physiological remodeling required for a successful pregnancy. Parasites like Plasmodium falciparum and Trypanosoma cruzi in the placenta challenge maternal-fetal crosstalk, potentially contributing to pathologies in placental malaria and Chagas disease. My lab is currently employing human placenta models and cutting-edge techniques in EVs research, advanced cell biology, and omics approaches to address two research questions:

  • Placental Malaria: P. falciparum-infected red blood cells bind to the fetal syncytiotrophoblast impairing oxygen and nutrient transport, causing placental malaria. We investigate how P. falciparum EV-associated virulent factors from placenta-binding parasite strains contribute to parasite sequestration and affect the function of the fetal syncytiotrophoblast.
  • Chagas Disease: In the placenta, T. cruzi can infect maternal and fetal cells, potentially causing structural alterations in the syncytiotrophoblast layer and increasing the risk of congenital Chagas Disease. However, vertical transmission is rare, and the mechanisms limiting fetal infections are unknown. My goal is to elucidate how EVs from syncytiotrophoblast and maternal immune cells participate in the defense against T. cruzi infection in the placenta.


PARA 438 Immunology 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


View a list of current publications.

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