Internal Medicine

Mary E. Wilson, MD


Professor of Internal Medicine  - Infectious Diseases
Professor of Microbiology
Professor of Epidemiology

Contact Information

Office: SW34-Q GH
220 Hawkins Dr
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-356-3169

Lab: 400 EMRB
431 Newton Rd
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-6808



BA, Carleton College, Northfield, MN
MD, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York

Internship, Internal Medicine, University of Michigan
Residency, Internal Medicine, University of Michigan
Fellowship, Infectious Diseases, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

Licensure and Certifications

Certification in Tropical Medicine and Travelers’ Health, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Subspecialty Board of Infectious Diseases, American Board of Internal Medicine
Medicine, Iowa Board of Medicine

Education/Training Program Affiliations

Department of Microbiology Graduate Program
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Genetics
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Immunology
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Translational Biomedicine
Medical Scientist Training Program

Research Summary

Dr. Wilson's research studies address the molecular, cellular and immunobiology of infection with the Leishmania species protozoa. Human infection with these parasites leads to a wide spectrum of clinical syndromes. Both human immunogenetic and parasite-encoded virulence factors lead to divergent disease manifestations. Dr. Wilson’s studies focus on the contributions of both host and parasite molecular characteristics that determine the outcome of leishmaniasis.

Leishmania are spread through the bite of a sand fly vector, and reside intracellularly in macrophages in human or other mammalian hosts. The parasite causes dramatic changes in gene expression in the host phagocyte, and lab members are investigating host mRNAs, host microRNAs and the parasite encoded virulence molecules underlying these changes. Other projects utilize both murine models and cultured human cells to address the contributions of macrophages, monocyte subsets, neutrophils, dendritic cells and keratinocytes to the local immune responses. The group hypothesizes that Leishmania manipulate the local immune response through the release of exosomes containing virulence-related proteins into the host environment. Techniques of protein chemistry, mass spectrometry, confocal microscopy, gene knockout/transgenic parasites and in vivo imaging of luminescent or fluorescent parasites are used to address these goals.

Dr. Wilson also participates in two Tropical Medicine Research Centers that fund collaborative field studies in India and Brazil. The Wilson lab works toward application of molecular techniques to understand both human genetic and molecular parasitic determinants leading to the diverse forms of human leishmaniasis. Genotyping of subjects in large family studies in India and Brazil has revealed several immune-related genes potentially associated with the outcome of visceral leishmaniasis. Studies of parasite genomes, and polymorphisms within genomes, are revealing contributions of the parasite strain to pathologic changes observed in leishmaniasis.

Center, Program and Institute Affiliations

Center for Gene Therapy of Cystic Fibrosis and other Genetic Diseases
Center for Immunology and Immune-based Diseases
Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center
Institute for Clinical and Translational Science
NIH Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Unit

Selected Publications

Show All

Graff J, Dickson A, Clay G, McCaffrey A, Wilson M.  Identifying functional microRNAs in macrophages with polarized phenotypes.  J Biol Chem.  2012 June 22. 287(26):21816-25.

Rodríguez N, Gaur Dixit U, Allen L, Wilson M.  Stage-specific pathways of Leishmania infantum chagasi entry and phagosome maturation in macrophages.  PLoS One.  2011 April 28. 6(4):e19000.

Thalhofer C, Chen Y, Sudan B, Love-Homan L, Wilson M.  Leukocytes infiltrate the skin and draining lymph nodes in response to the protozoan Leishmania infantum chagasi.  Infect Immun.  2011 January. 79(1):108-17.

Yao C, Li Y, Donelson J, Wilson M.  Proteomic examination of Leishmania chagasi plasma membrane proteins: Contrast between avirulent and virulent (metacyclic) parasite forms.  Proteomics Clin Appl.  2010 January. 4(1):4-16.

Ueno N, Bratt C, Rodriguez N, Wilson M.  Differences in human macrophage receptor usage, lysosomal fusion kinetics and survival between logarithmic and metacyclic Leishmania infantum chagasi promastigotes.  Cell Microbiol.  2009 December. 11(12):1827-41.

Ettinger N, Duggal P, Braz R, Nascimento E, Beaty T, Jeronimo S, Pearson R, Blackwell J, Moreno L, Wilson M.  Genetic admixture in Brazilians exposed to infection with Leishmania chagasi.  Ann Hum Genet.  2009 May. 73(Pt 3):304-13.

Gaur U, Roberts S, Dalvi R, Corraliza I, Ullman B, Wilson M.  An effect of parasite-encoded arginase on the outcome of murine cutaneous leishmaniasis.  J Immunol.  2007 December 15. 179(12):8446-53.

Jeronimo S, Duggal P, Ettinger N, Nascimento E, Monteiro G, Cabral A, Pontes N, Lacerda H, Queiroz P, Gomes C, Pearson R, Blackwell J, Beaty T, Wilson M.  Genetic predisposition to self-curing infection with the protozoan Leishmania chagasi: a genomewide scan.  J Infect Dis.  2007 October 15. 196(8):1261-9.

Date Last Modified: 06/06/2016 - 13:17:48