Conor McMeniman PhD

Assistant Professor of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology

cmcmeni1@jhu.edu
Telephone Number: 443-287-8764
Fax Number: 410-955-0105

W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
615 N. Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21205
Room: E5644 Bloomberg School of Public Health

Areas of Research
Cellular + Molecular Neuroscience
Neural Circuits, Ensembles + Connectomes

Graduate Program Affiliations

Neuroscience Training Program

Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Graduate Program 

Neurobiology of Vector-Borne Disease Transmission


Multiple arthropods, including several species of mosquitoes, have a strong innate drive to seek out vertebrate hosts to blood feed and reproduce. As a consequence, many blood-sucking arthropods also transmit a range of bacterial, protozoal, and viral pathogens to humans and other animals. Given this relationship, an improved understanding of the sensory cues and neural circuitry that guide arthropod disease vectors towards hosts, as well as the associated impact of pathogen infection on this process may help to devise powerful strategies that halt disease transmission. To gain insight into the neurobiology of vector-borne disease transmission, our research is currently centered around three specific aims:

 1. Identifying mosquito receptors and signature components of human scent that drive mosquito attraction towards humans

 2. Characterizing patterns of odor-evoked activity in the mosquito brain in response to the scent of infected and uninfected humans from disease endemic regions

 3. Determining the influence of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum, as well as infection with Zika and dengue viruses on mosquito olfactory perception and behavior

We employ integrative approaches including GC/MS, two-photon imaging and genome-editing technology to elucidate how host volatiles are perceived by the mosquito nervous system, and how this olfactory percept is altered by changes in internal physiological state during pathogen infection. In addition to improving our fundamental understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms orchestrating organismal behavior, we aspire to apply such knowledge to develop innovative strategies that modify mosquito behavior to eliminate disease transmission. 

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