Shannon Moonah

Moonah, Shannon

Primary Appointment

Assistant Professor, Medicine: Infectious Diseases and International Health


  • MD, University of the West Indies
  • ScM, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology , John Hopkins University
  • Residency, Internal Medicine, Assistant chief resident, includes NIH clinical and research electives, Howard University
  • Research Fellowship, University of Virginia
  • Clinical Fellowship, Infectious Diseases, University of Virginia

Contact Information

UVA Division of Infectious Diseases
345 Crispell Drive, MR-6, Room 2715
Charlottesville, VA 22908
Telephone: 434-243-1230

Research Disciplines

Infectious Diseases/Biodefense

Research Interests

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