Thavy Long

Assistant Professor

T: 514-398-7541 | thavy.long [at] mcgill.ca (Email) | Parasitology Building, P-114 

Degrees

BSc, MSc, University of Lille 1 - France
PhD, University of Lille 2 - France

Short Bio

Dr. Thavy Long obtained her MSc thesis in Genetic and Microbiology and PhD in Cell Biology from University of Lille (France). It was during her PhD with Dr Colette Dissous that she really developed an interest in the molecular and cellular biology of helminths and particularly of Schistosoma mansoni, a parasitic flatworm of humans. Her past project involved studies on protein kinases that regulate the development of reproductive organs and egg production in S. mansoni. She has also led numerous drug discovery and development projects against schistosomes during her postdoc-trainings with Dr. Conor Caffrey and Dr. James McKerrow at UC San Francisco and UC San Diego. Recently, she gained expertise on the biology of filarial parasites including the heartworm Dirofilaria immitis that infects companion animals by investigating the signaling pathways that govern the development of the infective stage. As an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Parasitology, Dr Long is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in developmental processes and metabolism of helminths including trematodes and filarial nematodes, in order to identify novel targets that could be the basis for new anthelminthics. In addition, her research is focused on finding new ways to monitor the development of drug resistance in helminth parasites.

Awards and Recognitions

Prestige Marie Curie Fellowship - Postdoctoral Fellowship

Research Interests

Professor Long's research focuses on the molecular basis underlying the chemical communication in schistosomes. In her laboratory, they aim to identify small molecule signals (lipids, hormones,…) as well as their associated receptors that are involved in signalling pathways essential for their development and reproductive biology.

Current Research

Helminths are parasitic worms of medical and veterinary importance. They infect billions of individuals worldwide and are responsible for chronic diseases in livestock and companion animals leading to significant economic losses. Treatment and control of helminthiasis are limited and mostly rely on a few anthelminthics (AHs) for which mass drug administration has already led to drug resistance in nematodes, and threats to extend to trematodes. No recombinant vaccines are available. Alternative treatment strategies are urgently needed. In this context, understand the essential physiological and developmental processes of helminth biology is crucial to the identification of novel gene/protein targets for drug or vaccine development. Cholesterol is an important constituent of animal membranes and it is also a precursor to several signaling molecules, including steroid hormones, insect steroids, vitamin D and bile acids, which have been shown to influence physiological processes in helminths. However, helminths are incapable of synthesizing sterols de novo and they rely on an exogenous supply from the host emphasizing a complex parasite-host interplay. How helminths acquire sterols and whether they metabolize them are unknown. Derivatives of cholesterol such as steroid hormones or bile acids exercise their function via the binding to nuclear receptors (NRs) that work in concert with other proteins to regulate the expression of specific genes controlling development, homeostasis, reproduction and metabolism. In schistosomes, steroid hormones have been shown to impact their physiology and NRs have been structurally characterized. However, no apparent hormone-receptor complex has been described so far. In this context, Dr Long’s laboratory is interested in:

  • Deciphering the genetic and molecular basis by which steroid hormones affect the development in trematodes and filarial parasites
  • Investigating the role of steroid hormones in the phenotypic plasticity of S. mansoni and particularly in the adaptation to a parasitic lifestyle
  • Unravelling the mechanisms developed by the parasite to exploit cholesterol from the host
  • Developing novel tools to understand and monitor drug resistance in helminths

Courses

LSCI 211 Biochemistry 1 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Publications

View a list of current publications on Google Scholar

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