Current Members of the Peters Lab

Dr. Nathan C. Peters

Associate Professor Dept. of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases

Dr. Peters completed his Ph.D. in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Bretscher at the University of Saskatchewan where he was the recipient of a Canadian Governor General’s Gold Medal for his graduate work on T cell activation. Dr. Peters continued his studies as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of David Sacks and then as a staff scientist in the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH, Bethesda, MD. During this time Dr. Peters studied the impact of the inflammatory response to blood-feeding insect bites and how this response impacted the initiation and efficacy of vaccination against insect-vector transmitted diseases such as Leishmaniasis, Malaria, and Lyme’s Disease. In September 2014, Dr. Peters was cross-appointed to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary and became an Associate Professor in 2017. From January 2021 to December 2022 Dr. Peters served as the Deputy Director of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases. In January 2023 Dr. Peters became Head of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Peters has published in some of the top journals including Science, PNAS, Cell Host and Microbe, and PLoS Pathogens. The Peters lab continues to expand our understanding of vaccine efficacy and the role of insect vectors in vector transmitted infections, including the requirements for vaccine induced protective immunity against a collection of diseases caused by pathogens that employ cells of the innate immune system as a site of persistence and replication, including Leishmaniasis, Tuberculosis, and fungal infections.

Matheus Carneiro, PhD

Research Associate

Dr. Carneiro completed his Ph.D in 2014 at the laboratory of Dr. Leda Vieira at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil). During this time he studied mechanisms of pathogenesis during Leishmania amazonensis infection. During his Ph.D Dr. Carneiro got a fellowship from Science without Borders (CAPES) and joined Dr. David Sacks’ laboratory in the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH (US) for a year, where he learned how to work with sandflies (the vector of Leishmania parasites), as an experimental model to transmit the parasites into a murine model. In September 2015 Dr. Carneiro moved to Calgary and started as a pos-doctoral fellow at Dr. Peters lab in University of Calgary, until he switched to a Research Associate position in December 2019. Recently Dr. Carneiro is studying the mechanisms of Leishmania parasites dissemination.

Chukwunonso Nzelu, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Nzelu joined the HPI group as a postdoctoral fellow in October 2017. He is working under the supervision of Dr. Nathan Peters in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infectious Diseases at the Cumming School of Medicine. Chukwunonso received a PhD in Veterinary Medicine  (Parasitology, Entomology and Molecular Epidemiology) from the Graduate School of Veterinary Medicine, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan. He also received an MPhil in Entomology from University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana and a BSc., in Parasitology and Entomology from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria. Chukwunonso’s current project is entitled: “Influence of the vector microbiome and saliva on vector transmitted diseases”. This project will ultimately contribute to a better understanding of how vector-transmission influences vector-borne infectious diseases.

Gabi Gee

Lab Manager and Insectary Technician

Gabi earned her BSc. from the University of Calgary in 2020. During her undergraduate studies, she collaborated with St. Mary's University on a study investigating the role of ant activity in the spread of an invasive plant species throughout Fish Creek Provincial Park. Gabi has spent time adapting field guides for native Albertan ant identification and collecting field specimens for the biology department. Along with ant research, Gabi has worked with the University of Calgary's biology department in creating online learning materials for Introductory Entomology courses. Gabi joined Peter's lab in 2022 as Lab Manager and also as Insectary Technician, performing a range of duties related to phlebotomine sand flies.

Léon Melo

MSc Student

Léon holds a BSc. in Biomedical Sciences from Catholic University of Salvador (Brazil) in 2019, where he was awarded a full tuition scholarship by the University for All Program (Brazilian Ministry of Education). During the last 2 years of his undergrad studies, he was a research intern at Gonçalo Muniz Institute – Fiocruz (Brazil), where he worked studying the interactions of Leishmania spp. with the immune system. His main project focused on the role of L. amazonensis in the carbohydrate metabolism of infected macrophages. He worked for a year and a half as a Medical Laboratory Scientist in a private lab (Brazil). He joined Peter’s Lab in January 2022 as an MSc. candidate, where he currently works in the project "The role of microbiota and co-localization in the dissemination of vector transmitted pathogens.

Ramyar Azizi

PhD Student

Ramyar earned his BSc in Medical Laboratory Science from Tabriz University of Medical Science, Iran, in 2014. He pursued an MSc in Medical Immunology under the supervision of Dr. Mehdi Yousefi at the same university, focusing on infertility immunology. During his MSc, he investigated the effects of cyclosporine on recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) patients. In another project, he explored the effects of inflammatory and oxidative stress factors in RPL patients afflicted by metabolic syndrome. After being awarded the highly competitive "Achiever in Medical Science" (AIMS) scholarship from the Cumming School of Medicine, Ramyar joined Dr. Peters' Lab in May 2023 as a Ph.D. student. The primary focus of his research is to unravel the intricate roles of monocytes in the second stage of intra phagosomal infection caused by Leishmania Major. Additionally, he aims to explore the involvement of TNFRSF (Tumor Necrosis Factors Receptor Super Family) in mediating interactions between infected monocytes and CD4+ T cells.

Camila Gaio

MSc Student

Camila started her Master of Science in Immunology at Peter's Lab in 2023, a year after she completed her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Informatics, at University of São Paulo (Brazil). Her undergrad thesis was titled “Transcriptome Characterization of Cells from the Sensory System after Peripheral Nerve Injury” under the supervision of Dr. Thiago Cunha. She won a Mitacs Globalink Internship scholarship in 2019 to conduct summer research at Dr. Finney’s lab at the University of Calgary.  She has a strong background in RNAseq analysis, more specifically Single Cell RNAseq. Her current project aims to understand the role of TRPV1+ neurons in the context of chronic cutaneous leishmaniasis.

Deborah Ola

Undergraduate Student

Deborah is a fourth year bachelor of Health Sciences student at the University of Calgary who is interested in tropical disease research and advocacy. Previously, she was involved in a project which studied Plasmodium falciparum Clonality and Drug Resistance in a Drug Efficacy Trial in Northwest Ethiopia. She is now pursuing her honours thesis studying Neutrophil response to Leishmania spp.

Santiago Espellet

Visiting Student

Santiago A. Espellet Soares is a Biomedical scientist, during his graduation he participated as an intern in the Molecular Biology Laboratory Jose Salum and the Cytokines Research Laboratory. He has a masters in Biology of Host-parasite interactions and is a Ph. D. student in the Host-Parasite interactions program at the Federal University of Goias. He joined Dr. Peter's Lab as a Visiting Student Researcher funded by CAPES (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel - Brazil). His work evaluates the host-parasite interactions between Leishmania spp. and macrophages, and immune response of alternative activated macrophages challenged by parasites.

Past Members of the Peters Lab

Audrey Simon

Lab Assistant

Audrey completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Saskatchewan and, after completion, entered into her M.Sc. program in molecular genetics studying bacteriophage lambda under the supervision of Dr. Sidney Hayes, also at the U of S.  She then completed her PhD at the U of S in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Potter studying immune responses in cattle to Shiga toxin 2.  She did a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Calgary under the supervision of Dr. David Sigalet, studying immune responses to Glp-2 using a murine model.  After taking time off to raise her 3 children, she returned to the U of C to work with Dr. Peters and his team.

Leah Hohman

PhD Student

Leah is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infectious Diseases at the Cumming School of Medicine. She began her graduate studies in September 2015 after receiving a Double Major BSc from the University of Victoria in Biology and Microbiology. Her thesis project "Effector function prior to establishment of the pathogen niche is required for protective CD4+ T cell-mediated immunity” focuses on understanding and identifying the correlates of protective immunity during a chronic Leishmania major infection to better inform vaccine strategies for not only Leishmania, but other phagosomal infections. Outside of the lab, Leah loves singing/playing a variety of instruments (with varying levels of competence), cooking, spoiling her dog, and photography. You can also find her playing video games and Dungeons & Dragons!

Adam Ranson

MSc Student

Adam began his Master of Science work with the Peter’s lab in 2017 after completing his undergraduate degree in Cellular, Molecular, and Microbial Biology at the University of Calgary. Adam’s MSc. project, titled: “The Trojan Horse Neutrophil: Mechanisms of Leishmania-Induced Cell Death”, is focused on exploring the mechanism(s) by which intraphagosomal parasites from the genus Leishmania invade innate immune cells of their mammalian host and subsequently modulate host-cell viability. Ultimately, Adam’s research will contribute to better understanding how intracellular parasites manage to manipulate host immune responses to survive, replicate, and transit within a hostile environment. With Nathan’s support, Adam was admitted to the MD program at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine in 2020 and looks forward to continuing his education in infection and immunity in the clinic.

Emily Bennett

Undergraduate Student

Emily was part of the Peters Lab as an undergraduate student from 2020 to 2022 as both a summer student and undergraduate thesis student. She characterized the composition of the gut microbiota of the Peters' Lab Lu.lo sandfly colony by culturing the sandfly gut contents in aerobic and anaerobic conditions and identifying present organisms via sanger sequencing of 16S rRNA. Currently, Emily is working as a clinical research coordinator for the SHRed Concussions study in the Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre at the University of Calgary where she get to combine her passion for research in medical sciences with my love of sport, working closely with the local community.

Samuel Alatorre-Hinojosa

Undergraduate Student

Sam worked in the Peter’s Lab as an undergraduate student in 2018-2019, investigating the differences between the immune responses elicited by natural infection vs. other modes of inoculation (pinprick, needle) and the implication of these differences on pathogen survival. Sam graduated from UofC in 2020 with a Bachelor of Health Sciences in Biomedical Science after which, he went on to complete a Master’s in Public Health at the University of Ottawa. Sam is currently a medical student in Calgary on track to graduate with the Class of 2025!

Somayeh Bahrami

Visiting Researcher

Somayeh Bahrami worked in Peters' lab, focusing on identifying sand flies' microbiome, investigating the microbial communities associated with sand flies and their potential implications for disease transmission. She is currently involved in research on the interaction between acanthamoeba and bacteria in the context of veterinary medicine.

Jenny Yoo

Undergraduate Student

Jenny was a summer student at the Peters lab in 2021, contributing to the sandfly gut microbiome project by being involved in the characterization of the gut microbiome. Since then, graduated in 2023 from the University of Toronto with a BSc. in Immunology and Human Biology, focusing on Health & Disease. Currently, Jenny is aspiring to attend medical school. 

Ryan Grewal

Undergraduate Student

During Ryan's time at the Peters lab, he compared the sand fly bite, skin prick, and bolus injection inoculation methods that are used for studying the process of parasitic dissemination by examining the innate immune response that is elicited by the three methods during non-infectious inoculation. Ryan also assisted other members of the lab with their projects. Since his summer research at the Peters Lab, Ryan have made the decision to switch career paths to software development. Currently, he is enrolled in an after-degree in computer science at the University of Calgary, balancing his time between completing classes and pursuing internships.

Gabriel Ferland

Undergraduate Student

Gabriel worked in the Peters lab as a summer student in 2018 and 2020 while completing a Bachelor's of Sciences in Immunology at the University of Toronto. His project aimed to investigate the differing capacities of monocytes and macrophages in permitting L. major growth in response to Ly6C+CD4+ T effector-mediated immunity after infection. He then went on to graduate from medical school with the Cumming School of Medicine Class of 2023 and is now a resident physician in internal medicine in Calgary.

Benjamin Perks

Undergraduate Student

During his time in the Peters lab, Benjamin completed an undergraduate honours thesis investigating innate cellular differences between Leishmaniasis caused by different strains of Leishmania. After completing a Masters of Biomedical Technolgoy in 2023, Benjamin moved to Sydney, Australia where he is pursuing a Doctor of Medicine at the University of Sydney.

Robert Penner

Undergraduate Student

Robert was a summer student in 2015 and 2016 while completing a Bachelor's of Science Honors degree in Immunology and Infection at the University of Alberta. His project aimed to understand the interactions between bone marrow derived macrophages and Leishmania major. Robert is currently a Senior Research Associate at STEMCELL Technologies focusing on the development of immune cell culture products.