Silvia J. Moreno, a professor in the cellular biology department and director for the NIH Training Grant in Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, is recognized for her studies on calcium signaling in parasitic protozoa.
Her work defined the link between calcium signaling and pathogenesis of infectious organisms. Her research focuses on Toxoplasma gondii, a pathogen that infects one-third of the world population. She and her team discovered mechanisms of calcium signaling in parasites and novel compartments that store calcium that are different from those present in mammalian cells. Her laboratory developed new genetic tools to study calcium that could be used for high-throughput assays to find new pharmacological agents for the potential treatment of parasitic diseases.
Based on another fundamental discovery from her lab, that Toxoplasma takes specific nutrients from its host, she proposed the development of therapeutics that combine host-encoded and parasite-encoded functions as a novel approach for chemotherapy.