Adela Oliva Chávez, Ph.D.

Personal biography

I received both, my M.Sc. and Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota Entomology Department under the mentoring of Dr. Ulrike Munderloh. In Minnesota, my studies focused on several human and veterinary tick-borne pathogens of increasing importance, specifically Anaplasma marginale and Anaplasma phagocytophilum. My master was centered in studying the variation of an outer membrane protein as response to changes in the host cell. My Ph.D. focused in the functional characterization of two proteins involved in the infection cycle of A. phagocytophilum. I also worked with Ehrlichia ruminantium, another member of the Anaplasmataceae family, characterizing the function of an effector protein and a sensor regulator in the infection cycle of this bovine pathogen in BAE cells. However, I have developed a strong interest in vector-pathogen interactions because it is an area that has been highly neglected when compared to our understanding of the infection cycle within mammalian hosts. In my free time, I enjoy doing sports and exploring. I am an avid runner, I enjoy marathons, over-night relays, and trail running as a way to relax and disconnect. I recently started scuba diving as a way to explore underwater environments.


Oliva Chávez AS, Shaw DK, Munderloh UG, and Pedra JHF. 2017. Tick humoral responses: marching to the beat of a different drummer. Front. Microbiol. 8:223. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.00223.

Shaw DK, Wang X, Brown JB, Oliva Chávez AS, Reif KE, Smith AA, et al. 2017. Infection-derived lipids elicit an immune deficiency circuit in arthropods. Nature Communications 8:14401. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14401.

Oliva Chávez AS, Fairman JW, Felsheim RF, Nelson CM, Herron MJ, Higgins L, Burkhardt NY, Oliver JD, Markowski TW, Edwards TE, and Munderloh, UG. 2015. An O-Methyltransferase Is Required for Infection of Tick Cells By Anaplasma phagocytophilum. PLoS Pathog. 11(11):e1005248.

Oliver JD, Chávez AS, Felsheim RF, Kurtti TJ, Munderloh UG. 2015. An Ixodes scapularis cell line with a predominantly neuron-like phenotype. Exp. Appl. Acarol. 66(3):427-42.

Current Projects

My currents projects are focused on understanding the vector side of tick-borne diseases. I am currently working in two projects. The first one is to understand the interactions of the E3 ubiquitin ligase XIAP with other molecules involved in the IMD pathway of ticks and its role during infection with intracellular tick-borne pathogens. The second project is to decipher the way that tick salivary proteins are secreted into the mammalian host during tick feeding. These two aspects are likely involved with vector capacity of ticks and their understanding can lead to develop potential ways to stop pathogen transmission.

Working in the Pedra lab

The Pedra lab is the perfect place to pursue my interest of the vector side of pathogen transmission, which is a much neglected pursuit in the study of tick-borne pathogens. The multidisciplinary focus of the lab (microbiology, immunology, molecular biology and protein expression) and the ability to work with Anaplasma phagocytophilum as a disease model, make this lab the ideal place to examine some of the factors involved in vector capacity and enhance the knowledge of pathogen transmission by ticks.


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