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Dr. Peter MelbyPeter C. Melby, M.D.
Director, UTMB Center for Tropical Diseases

Dr. Melby joined UTMB in 2010 as Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Director of the UTMB Center for Tropical Diseases. His research program is related to the immunopathogenesis of parasitic diseases, with a particular focus on leishmaniasis. His laboratory has been involved in vaccine development, studies to determine immunopathological mechanisms of disease, studies to define the impact of malnutrition on innate immunity and visceral leishmaniasis, and drug discovery. His interest in tropical diseases and the neglected diseases of resource-poor developing countries started thirty years ago when he first worked overseas in a hospital laboratory in rural Egypt. He subsequently returned to the U.S. to attend medical school at the University of Colorado and then went on to complete my residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Missouri, a research fellowship in the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, and a clinical infectious diseases fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio. He is active in the clinical practice of infectious diseases and in the teaching of medical and graduate students, as well as clinical residents and fellows.

Dr. Patty AguilarPatricia V. Aguilar, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Center for Tropical Diseases

Dr. Aguilar joined UTMB in 2010 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology. Her primary research focus is to advance our knowledge in the area of molecular pathogenesis of arthropod-borne virus (arbovirus) infection and to shed light on the host immune responses to these viruses. Another important aspect of her research has been devoted to sensitizing the medical community in Latin America about the distinct arbovirus pathogens that have been recognized in these endemic areas. This has allowed her to establish collaborations to generate novel and effective tools for the diagnosis of febrile illness. Her fruitful collaborations with investigators overseas have also led to the recognition of novel pathogens affecting humans in endemic regions.Dr. Aguilar’s interest on arboviruses began twenty years ago when she was an employee at the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit-6 (NAMRU-6) in Lima, Peru, where she actively participated in the identification and characterization of arboviruses causing febrile illness.  The public health importance of these viruses motivated her to pursue a career in biomedical research and in 1999, she was awarded a scholarship from the Fulbright program to pursue graduate studies at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). After graduation, Dr. Aguilar accepted a postdoctoral position at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York where she engaged in influenza and host-pathogen interaction research. In 2008, Dr. Aguilar returned to Lima, Peru and during this time, her research focused on the epidemiology of alphaviruses and bunyaviruses.

Ellis1Jennifer Koch
Program Manager, UTMB Center for Tropical Diseases

Jennifer was previously at UTMB for 10 years and has worked for the Division of General Medicine, the Associate Deans of Research, and the Provost. She rejoined UTMB in April of 2011 to serve as the Program Manager for the Center for Tropical Diseases (CTD). In this role, she is charged with operationalizing the vision of the CTD. She oversees all programs within the Center and is accountable for the administrative, operational, and financial management to ensure the development and promotion of research within the Center. Jennifer also serves as the Webmaster for the CTD. She currently holds an AA in Business and is pursuing her Bachelor's Degree.