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Diane McMahon-Pratt, PhD

Professor Emeritus of Public Health; Affiliated Faculty, Yale Institute for Global Health



The research in Professor McMahon-Pratt's laboratory is concerned with the parasitic protozoan, Leishmania, which causes a spectrum of diseases known as leishmaniasis. The laboratory is interested in understanding the immune effector mechanisms in the mammalian host that are involved in the control of infection and/or pathogenesis, with the aim to developing a vaccine against leishmaniasis. The laboratory has defined target vaccine candidate molecules and is collaborating with the University of Iowa and Cambridge University in a project directed toward the development of a multi-subunit vaccine. In addition, we have collaborated with Dr. Tarek Fahmy (Yale Bioengineering) in the development of nanoparticle therapeutic treatment delivery system for leishmaniasis. In other studies, the laboratory also collaborates Drs. Al Bothwell and Eddie Chae (Immunobiology) investigating the role of DKK-1 in the regulation of the innate and T cell responses to Leishmania infection. We have long-term collaboration with scientists in Colombia. Currently, Professor McMahon-Pratt is director of NIAID R01 and Fogarty (NIH)-sponsored Programs with Centro Internacional de Entrenamiento e Investigaciones Médicas (CIDEIM) in Colombia. These programs are focused on understanding the pathology of leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania (Viannia), which predominates in South America, with the objective of designing immunological approaches for treatment and control.

Education & Training

  • Post-Doctoral Fellow
    Harvard Medical School (1980)
  • PhD
    Harvard University, Immunology (1978)
  • BS
    University of Southern California, Chemistry (1969)


  • Improved Treatment of American Cutaneous Leishmaniasis by Immunomodulation
    Colombia (2011-2015)
    This application is a collaborative project with Dr. N. Saravia at CIDEIM (Colombia) which is focused on the development of immunomodulatory therapy for cutaneous leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania (Viannia). The murine model of chronic disease is being used to interrogate new approaches for treatment.
  • Vector/Host-Parasite Interface of Leishmaniasis in Colombia
    Cali, Colombia (2004-2018)
    The goal of the training grant is to build research capacity to identify strategies and devise means to interrupt the cycle of transmission and pathogenesis of leishmaniasis through intervention of the invertebrate and vertebrate host pathogen interactions. To achieve this goal, the training program will implement research capacity in the molecular analysis of the interaction between Leishmania and both the sandfly vector and the mammalian host. The proposed program builds upon the existing research capacity and ongoing projects of the developing country institution in clinical, epidemiological and biological aspects of cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis and other transmissible diseases, prior collaboration with Yale faculty, and the critical mass of faculty and infrastructure for the conduct of molecular analyses of kinetoplastid parasites and host responses available at Yale University. Colombian scientists will receive training at Yale through the conduct of mentored research, auditing of postgraduate courses and short courses on research skills, such as biosafety, responsible conduct of research, and scientific writing. Workshops will be offered each year at CIDEIM with the participation of Yale Faculty (on site and teleconferencing) to build and multiply research skills and introduce national investigators to concepts and principles of molecular analysis (bioinformatics and data mining, functional genomics, expression analysis). Predoctoral trainees will be selected among postgraduate students from Colombian universities who conduct thesis research in CIDEIM. Students will be recent graduates of human or veterinary medicine and basic science who have qualified for scholarship support within the framework of COLCIENCIAS' Young Investigator program. Post-doctoral training and scientific exchange for periods of up to 4 months will be available to research staff of CIDEIM whose research is relevant to the vector or host- Leishmania interaction. During year 5 of the program, formal postgraduate courses on the molecular genetic analyses of host (mammalian/vector)-pamsite interactions will be offered to national and regional students by CIDEIM. Overall, the training conducted will prepare investigators in new areas of research, implement training by teleconferencing, and assure the capacity to offer formal courses for Colombian and regional post-graduate students. All of these will contribute to the sustainability of research capacity.
  • Immunology and epidemiology of leishmaniasis
    Cali, Colombia (1985-2017)

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Elected Member Connecticut Academy of Science and EngineeringConnecticut Academy of Science and Engineering2016
Burroughs-Welccome Lecturer, NIH Laboratory of Parasitic Diseasea1994
Bailey K. Ashford Medal, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene1993
Councilor, American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene1993, 1997
Organizer, Gordon Conference on Biological Aspects of Parasitism1991, 1993

Professional Service

World LEISH 6International meeting on leishmaniasis - Organizing Committee2015 - 2017
International Health Committee2009 - 2011
Editorial Board, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases2008 - 2016
Co-Organizer, International Conference on post-genomic research strategies for the development of vaccines and drugs against leishmaniasis.Co-organizer (with Drs. J. Blackwell (Cambridge University), Paul Kaye (University of York) and Mary Wilson (University of Iowa)). International Conference on post-genomic research strategies for the development of vaccines and drugs against leishmaniasis. Cotswalds, England. September, 2007. 2006 - 2007
WorldLeish3 –Italy, April, 2005: Organizing Committee2004 - 2005
WHO/T.D.R. Review of Leishmaniasis Program2004 - Present
NIH - Microbiology and Infectious Disease Research Study Section Member2001 - 2005
Member, Program Committee, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene2001 - 2015
Yale University School of Medicine: Senior Faculty Allotment Committee2001 - 2004
Review Panel, Howard Hughes, International Infectious Disease Program2000
Editorial Board, American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene1999 - 2016
Appointments and Promotions Committee, Yale University School of Medicine1998 - 2000
Editorial Board, Memorias Oswaldo Cruz1993 - 2004
Organizer, W.H.O. Workshop, December 1993, Identification and diagnosis of Leishmania species. Cali, Colombia.1992 - 1993
World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization, Workshop Organizer. Washington, D.CCoordinator1991 - 1992
Served as a reviewer for grant applications to the National Science Foundation, Canadian Research Foundation, Veterans Administration and World Health Organization and US Army Research, Wellcome Trust (England)1990 - Present
NIH Study Section member - Tropical Medicine and Parasitology1988 - 1992
International Health Committee (Downs Fellowship)1988 - 1994
Provost’s Appointments and Promotions Committee of EPH

Departments & Organizations