Division of Infectious Diseases

Career Development (K) Award Recipients

Anthony Cannella, MD

Description: Cannella_000.jpgAnthony Cannella was born and raised in Tampa, FL, and at a young age was instilled with a passion for science. After completing his bachelors of science degree at the University of SouthFlorida, he obtained a masters of science from Barry University; during this time, he gained experieince by working on a research project on vaccine candidates for malignant melanoma in a local, private research laboratory. In 2006, he obtained his doctor of medicine degree from the University of South Florida, and subsequently in 2009, completed the Internal Medicine Residency Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. There, he received both accolades for teaching and as the first recipient for the TiME-R program, where he gained research experience in the lab of Dr. Paul Geopfert in investigational immunological techniques. This experience was what placed him on the path of becoming a physician-scientist, and led him to the University of California, San Diego for his Infectious Diseases Fellowship.

During his time at UC San Diego, he became intrigued by the incredible clinical diversity of the cases, which led him to his fascination with host-pathogen interactions, and more specifically, adaptive immune responses to pathogens. This led him to join the laboratory of Dr. Joseph Vinetz, who has led a large international neglected tropical medicine research group for over a decade. Working under the tutelage of Dr. Vinetz and Dr. Alessandro Sette and his team at the La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology, Dr. Cannella successfully identified the first T cell epitopes for Brucella melitensis, which are now providing the bedrock for both future important diagnostic and vaccination research for brucellosis. During this time, he became a Clinical Instructor, where he attended on the consult service, as well as Associate Director of the Medical Microbiology Course, where he also demonstrated one of his other passions, teaching students, residents and fellows.

In 2013, the National Institutes of Health awarded him a K-08 award on the elucidation of the mechanisms behind the responses of individuals to certain infections, through both the cytokine profiling of these individuals’ T helper cell responses (Th1/Th2/Th17/Threg) and even measurement of B cell memory capacity. This was also the time that he was given the opportunity to become promoted to Assistant Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego.

In 2014, he obtained a position back in his home state, at the University of Florida, where he will be a member of the world renowned Emerging Pathogens Institute there, and will now expand his research into the Caribbean, and continue his current research plan on the diseases found there. He will continue to investigate the fundamental immune differences between asymptomatic patients and symptomatic patients, and that these potential differences can hold the key to understanding how certain pathogens can not only evade the immune system, but also induce a response, which could impede immune control of the organism in question.

Selected Bibliography

  1. Cannella AP, Tsolis RM, Liang L, Felgner PL, Saito M, Sette A, Gotuzzo E, Vinetz JM. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. Antigen-specific acquired immunity in human brucellosis: implications for diagnosis, prognosis, and vaccine development Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 2012;2:1. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2012.00001. Epub 2012 Feb 1.PMID: 22919593
  2. McKinnell JA, Cannella AP, Kunz DF, Hook EW 3rd, Moser SA, Miller LG, Baddley JW, Pappas PG. Pneumocystis Pneumonia; A Detailed Examination of Symptoms, Management, and Outcomes in HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected Persons Transpl Infect Dis. 2012 Oct;14(5):510-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3062.2012.00739.x. Epub 2012 May 1.PMID: 22548840: Co-first author
  3. Cannella AP, Lindestam Arlehamn CS, Sidney J, Patra KP, Torres K, Tsolis RM, Liang, L, Felgner, PL, Saito M, Gotuzzo E, Gilman RH, Sette A, Vinetz Brucella melitensis T cell Epitope Recognition by Humans Recovered From Brucellosis in Peru Infect Immun. 2013 Oct 14. PMID: 24126518
  4. Lehmann JS, Fouts DE, Haft DH, Cannella AP, Ricaldi JN, Brinkac L, Harkins D, Durkin S, Sanka R, Sutton G, Moreno A, Vinetz JM, Matthias MA Pathogenomic Inference of Virulence-Associated Genes in Leptospira interrogans PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2013 Oct 3;7(10):e2468. PMID: 24098822
  5. McKinnell JA, Cannella AP, Injean P, Gregson A. Adjunctive Glucocorticoid Therapy for Non-HIV-Related Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia (NH-PCP) Am J Transplant. 2014 Apr;14(4):982-3. doi: 10.1111/ajt.12655. PMID: 2466683

Sanjay Mehta, MD

Sanjay Mehta, MDSanjay Mehta was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, a true Cleveland Indian. After studying chemistry at Johns Hopkins University, he returned home for medical school at Case Western Reserve University. Between time in India, and the inspiration from the faculty at CWRU, his interest in infectious diseases grew. During internal medicine residency at the University of Colorado, he was able to take three months to earn a Diplomate Degree from the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from the London. After residency, he worked and did research for a year in Colorado (along with just a little bit of skiing), before moving back to Baltimore to pursue infectious disease training at the University of Maryland. There, after his clinical year, he began working with Drs. Chris Plowe and Kirsten Lyke on malaria and HIV infection, as well as malaria vaccine development. He then ended up transferring to UCSD for personal reasons and transitioned his research to work on leishmaniasis under the mentorship of Drs. Roberto Badaro and Robert Schooley. His work ranged from development of in vitro drug screening models to in vivo animal models for vaccine screening. He also spent some time in Brazil studying HIV and Leishmania co-infection…and trying to learn to samba.

Currently, his research focus, and the focus of his K23, awarded February of 2012 is viral evolution and the molecular epidemiology of HIV. Under the mentorship of Drs. Davey Smith, Susan Little, Doug Richman, Tom Patterson and Steffanie Strathdee, and with close collaborations with Dr. Sergei Kosakovsky Pond and Joel Wertheim, Dr. Mehta has been working on ways to learn more about HIV transmission and spread by combining viral genetic, geographic and socio-demographic information to model HIV transmission and use network theory to make predictions on how targeted interventions may prevent future infections. Dr. Mehta’s molecular epidemiologic work has focused locally on the San Diego-Tijuana border region, but he is also working internationally in with collaborators across central America and in Romania, and Austria. Dr. Mehta is also a co-investigator on NIH funded projects looking at ethics in HIV molecular epidemiology, network target prevention of HIV infection, and monitoring HIV networks in MSM in Tijuana, Mexico. Finally, Dr. Mehta is also pursuing research looking at the role of mitochondria in the accelerated aging seen in HIV infection, funded through developmental grants administered through the Centers for AIDS Research and the Human Neurobehavioral Research.

In between research projects, Dr. Mehta is the Assistant Director of the San Diego VA Medical Center Microbiology Lab, and attends at the VA and on the Transplant Infectious Disease Service. Last but not least, he tries really hard to make sure that his kids (ages 3 and 5) cannot outscore him on the soccer field.


Michael Preziosi, MD

Michael Preziosi, MDAfter serving as UCSD Chief Medical Resident during the 2009 -2010 academic year, Mike Preziosi was recruited as the founding site director for the UCSD-Universidade Eduardo Mondlane Medical Education Partnership and spent the year in Maputo, Mozambique.  During this time, he became interested in the epidemiology, pathogenesis and clinical manifestations of non-typhoidal salmonella (NTS) in Mozambique as it became apparent that this pathogen was causing substantial morbidity in the HIV-1 infected population. Mike gathered specimens from patients with salmonella sepsis presenting to Maputo Central Hospital.  Upon returning from Mozambique in 2010, he spent a year as a clinical fellow in infectious diseases at UCSD and then entered the laboratory of Donald Guiney where he studied the genetic diversity of the NTS strains he collected in Mozambique over the next three years with the support of the Division’s T32 Infectious Disease Training Grant.  This work formed the basis for his successful KL2 application on this topic that was awarded in July of 2014.  He was recently appointed Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases.  Over the next several years, he plans to build on his collaborations in Mozambique while learning advanced genomic analysis at UCSD, in order to better define the reservoir, transmission, and antibiotic resistance mechanisms for this emerging pathogen.  Dr. Preziosi is also active as a clinical educator both in the medical school and medicine residency programs at UCSD, and looks forward to mentoring students and residents interested in pursuing careers in global health both at home and abroad.

Selected Bibliography

  1. Noormahomed EV, Mocumbi AO, Preziosi M, Damasceno A, Bickler S, Smith DM, Funzamo C, Aronoff-Spencer E, Badaró R, Mabila F, Bila D, Nguenha A, Do Rosário V, Benson CA, Schooley RT, Patel S, Ferrão LJ, Carrilho C.; Strengthening research capacity through the medical education partnership initiative: the Mozambique experience. Hum Resource Health. 2013 Dec 5;11(1):62. doi: 10.1186/1478-4491-11-62
  2. Preziosi, M, Kandel, S, Guiney, D, Browne, S: Microbiological Analysis of Nontyphoidal Salmonella Strains Causing Distinct Syndromes of Bacteremia or Enteritis in HIV/AIDS Patients in San Diego, California. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 2012 50(11) 3598-603.

Gabriel Wagner, MD

Gabriel Wagner, MDGabriel Wagner was born in Lima, Peru and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. After high school, he attended Case Western Reserve University where he majored in Biology, Biochemisty, and French, graduating cum laude. He earned his Medical Doctorate in 2006 from The University of Toledo College of Medicine in Toledo, Ohio, and subsequently moved back to Cleveland to complete internship and residency training in internal medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. He completed training as a clinical fellow in infectious diseases at UCSD in 2009-2010, followed by extensive clinical translational research training in HIV/AIDS at the Center for AIDS Research and the Antiviral Research Center in the laboratory of Dr. Davey Smith and Dr. Douglas Richman. His research interests developed around HIV superinfection (i.e., re-infection of an individual by a second viral strain) and its role in the global epidemic. Over the next four years, he and his colleagues utilized next generation sequencing to describe the virologic and clinical correlates of HIV superinfection, and to report a rather high frequency of this phenomenon among men who have sex with men in San Diego; this work was carried out with mentor support and the support of the Division’s T32 AIDS Training Grant. During this tenure, he also undertook didactic coursework in clinical research through the UCSD CREST program, and he also successfully completed the Interdisciplinary Research Fellowship in NeuroAIDS (2011-2013) at the UCSD HIV Neurobehavioral Research Center, where he investigated the impact of HIV superinfection on neurocognitive functioning. This work formed the basis for his successful KL2 application on this topic that was awarded in July of 2014. He is currently in the process of being appointed Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases.  Over the next several years, he plans to continue his work to (1) better understand correlates of protection from re-infection that can be used to inform the design of a protective HIV vaccine, and to (2) learn how HIV superinfection impacts end organ damage, specifically, the central nervous system and neurocognitive functioning.

Selected Bibliography

  1. Wagner GA, Pacold ME, Pond SL, Caballero G, Chaillon A, Rudolph AE, Morris SR, Little SJ, Richman DD, Smith DM. Incidence and Prevalence of Intrasubtype HIV-1 Dual Infection in At-Risk Men in the United States. The Journal of Infectious Diseases; 2013 Nov 22. PMID: 24273040.
  2. Morris SR, Woods SP, Deutsch R, Little SJ, Wagner G, Morgan EE, Heaton RK, Letendre SL, Grant I, Smith DM. Dual-mixed HIV-1 coreceptor tropism and HIV-associated neurocognitive deficits. Journal of NeuroVirology; 2013 Sep 28. PMID: 24078557.
  3. Chaillon A, Wagner GA, Hepler NL, Little SJ, Kosakovsky Pond SL, Caballero G, Pacold ME, Phung P, Wrin T, Richman DD, Wertheim JO, Smith DM. Dynamics of Viral Evolution and Neutralizing Antibody Response after HIV-1 Superinfection. Journal of Virology; 2013 Sep 18. PMID: 24049166.
  4. Hightower GK, May SJ, Pérez-Santiago J, Pacold ME, Wagner GA, Little SJ, Richman DD, Mehta SR, Smith DM, Pond SL. HIV-1 Clade B pol Evolution following Primary Infection. PLoS One 2013; 8(6):e68188.
  5. Wagner GA, Pacold ME, Vigil E, Caballero G, Morris SR, Pond SL, Little SJ, Richman DD, Gianella S, Smith DM. Using Ultradeep Pyrosequencing to Study HIV-1 Co-receptor Usage in Primary and Dual Infection. The Journal of Infectious Diseases 2013; 208: 271–74.

Joel Wertheim, PhD

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:Joel:Desktop:544132_10201867711641889_851689902_n.jpgJoel Wertheim spent much of his childhood watching the monkeys and apes at the Minnesota Zoo. He majored in Biology at Wesleyan University where he conducted experiments in microbial evolution in soil bacteria, the smallest organisms available for study in the department. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 2004, he began graduate studies at the University of Arizona under Dr. Michael Worobey in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. His PhD work allowed him to transition from the wet-lab into more computational research focusing on viral evolution, specifically the primate precursors to HIV. In 2009, he finished his PhD dissertation, entitled Reconstructing the Evolutionary History of RNA Viruses using Relaxed Molecular Clocks. Afterwards, he moved to San Diego to begin work as a post-doctoral researcher in the Viral Evolution Group under Dr. Sergei Kosakovsky Pond. Here, he continued his computational work, focusing more intently on HIV evolution. His current work on HIV transmission networks formed the basis for a successful NIH-NIAID K01 Career Development Award and promotion to Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases. In addition to his numerous peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Wertheim’s work has been featured in the Washington Post and the New York Times. Still, he continues to spend an inordinate amount of time watching the monkeys and apes at the San Diego Zoo.

Selected Bibliography

  1. Joel O. Wertheim, Martin D. Smith, Davey M. Smith, Konrad Scheffler and Sergei L. Kosakovsky Pond (2014) Evolutionary origins of human herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2. Molecular Biology and Evolution. doi:10.1093/molbev/msu185.
  2. Joel O. Wertheim, Andrew J. Leigh Brown, N. Lance Hepler, Sanjay R. Mehta, Douglas D. Richman, Davey M. Smith and Sergei L. Kosakovsky Pond (2014) The global transmission network of HIV-1. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 209(2): 304–313.
  3. Joel O. Wertheim, Mathieu Fourment and Sergei L. Koskovsky Pond (2012) Inconsistencies in estimating the age of HIV-1 subtypes due to heterotachy. Molecular Biology and Evolution 29(2): 451–456.
  4. Joel O. Wertheim and Sergei L. Kosakovsky Pond (2011) Purifying selection can obscure the ancient age of viral lineages. Molecular Biology and Evolution 28(12): 3355–3365.