Shannon Moonah


  • MD, University of the West Indies
  • Residency, Howard University
  • ScM, John Hopkins University
  • Clinical Fellowship, University of Virginia
  • Research Fellowship, University of Virginia

Primary Appointment

  • Assistant Professor, Medicine- Infectious Diseases and International Health


Research Interest(s)

Host-pathogen interactions; molecular parasitology; mucosal inflammation; immunopathology and repair

Research Description

The ultimate goal of our research is to improve the clinical outcomes of parasitic infections while expanding our understanding of mucosal inflammation and repair.

Entamoeba histolytica is a parasite that causes inflammation of the colon, termed amebic colitis. Excessive inflammation contributes to the tissue damage seen in amebic colitis. We found that E. histolytica produces a homolog of the proinflammatory cytokine MIF and discovered that, like human MIF, E. histolytica MIF (EhMIF) is a causal factor in colitis.

My lab investigates: - The contribution of MIF homologs to gut immunopathology. - The specific host receptor that mediates this destructive inflammatory response. - The reasons a pathogenic parasite would encode a proinflammatory cytokine, and in particular, to determine whether there is a physiological function or evolutionary benefit.

This work expands our knowledge of mucosal immunology, host-parasite interaction and highlights a potential immunomodulatory target. These studies may contribute to a better overall understanding of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), given the pathological similarities observed in gut inflammation between amebic colitis and IBD. Also, what is learned may be applicable to other parasite pathogens that possess their own MIF homolog such as Plasmodium, Toxoplasma, Trichomonas and Leishmania.

Selected Publications

  • Ghosh S, Padalia J, Moonah S. Tissue Destruction Caused by Entamoeba histolytica Parasite: Cell Death, Inflammation, Invasion, and the Gut Microbiome. Current clinical microbiology reports. 2019;6(1): 51-57. PMID: 31008019 | PMCID: PMC6449278
  • Ghosh S, Leaton L, Farr L, Barfield A, Moonah S. Interaction between parasite-encoded JAB1/CSN5 and macrophage migration inhibitory factor proteins attenuates its proinflammatory function. Scientific reports. 2018;8(1): 10241. PMID: 29980718
  • Jiang N, Cowan M, Moonah S, Petri W. The Impact of Systemic Inflammation on Neurodevelopment. Trends in molecular medicine. 2018;24(9): 794-804. PMID: 30006148 | PMCID: PMC6110951
  • Shirley D, Farr L, Watanabe K, Moonah S. A Review of the Global Burden, New Diagnostics, and Current Therapeutics for Amebiasis. Open forum infectious diseases. 2018;5(7): ofy161. PMID: 30046644 | PMCID: PMC6055529
  • Ngobeni R, Abhyankar M, Jiang N, Farr L, Samie A, Haque R, Moonah S. Entamoeba histolytica-Encoded Homolog of Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor Contributes to Mucosal Inflammation during Amebic Colitis. The Journal of infectious diseases. 2017;215(8): 1294-1302. PMID: 28186296
  • Ngobeni R, Samie A, Moonah S, Watanabe K, Petri W, Gilchrist C. Entamoeba Species in South Africa: Correlations With the Host Microbiome, Parasite Burdens, and First Description of Entamoeba bangladeshi Outside of Asia. The Journal of infectious diseases. 2017. PMID: 29236996 | PMCID: PMC5853652
  • Watanabe K, Gilchrist C, Uddin M, Burgess S, Abhyankar M, Moonah S, Noor Z, Donowitz J, Schneider B, Arju T, Ahmed E, Kabir M, Alam M, Haque R, Pramoonjago P, Mehrad B, Petri W. Microbiome-mediated neutrophil recruitment via CXCR2 and protection from amebic colitis. PLoS pathogens. 2017;13(8): e1006513. PMID: 28817707 | PMCID: PMC5560520
  • Shirley D, Moonah S. Fulminant Amebic Colitis after Corticosteroid Therapy: A Systematic Review. PLoS neglected tropical diseases. 2016;10(7): e0004879. PMID: 27467600 | PMCID: PMC4965027
  • Jiang N, Tofail F, Moonah S, Scharf R, Taniuchi M, Ma J, Hamadani J, Gurley E, Houpt E, Azziz-Baumgartner E, Haque R, Petri W. Febrile illness and pro-inflammatory cytokines are associated with lower neurodevelopmental scores in Bangladeshi infants living in poverty. BMC pediatrics. 2014;14 50. PMID: 24548288 | PMCID: PMC3936797
  • Moonah S, Abhyankar M, Haque R, Petri W. The macrophage migration inhibitory factor homolog of Entamoeba histolytica binds to and immunomodulates host macrophages. Infection and immunity. 2014;82(9): 3523-30. PMID: 24818664 | PMCID: PMC4187827
  • Moonah S, Sanders N, Persichetti J, Sullivan D. Erythrocyte lysis and Xenopus laevis oocyte rupture by recombinant Plasmodium falciparum hemolysin III. Eukaryotic cell. 2014;13(10): 1337-45. PMID: 25148832 | PMCID: PMC4187644
  • Moonah S, Jiang N, Petri W. Host immune response to intestinal amebiasis. PLoS pathogens. 2013;9(8): e1003489. PMID: 23990778 | PMCID: PMC3749964