Damien O'Halloran

Damien O'Halloran
Department Chair & Associate Professor of Biology
SEH 6000B
[email protected]
O'Halloran Lab

Current Research

Parasitic nematodes constitute one of the major threats to human health by causing diseases of major socioeconomic importance. Recent estimates indicate more than 1 billion people are infected with parasitic nematodes, and more than a dozen species routinely parasitize humans. My lab uses computational and experimental approaches to understand nematode parasitism. We are attempting to understand the host factors and nematode substrates that initiate the infection process. Our experimental research uses the insect parasite Heterorhabditis bacteriophora as well as intestinal blood-feeding species of hookworm; we also use the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to model aspects of parasitic nematode biology.

Currently, parasitic nematodes are controlled by treatment with anthelmintic drugs that kill mature worms in the host. However in endemic areas people are often rapidly re-infected following drug treatment and heavy exposure to anthelmintics has selected populations of livestock parasitic nematodes that are no longer susceptible to the drugs. As mass drug administration programs continue, more resistance is inevitable and therefore new anthelmintics will become critical. My lab is also studying anthelminthic drug activity and have identified strains of anthelminthic resistant hookworm which we are studying to understand how drug resistance emerges in naturally occurring strains. We are also developing computational approaches to identifying candidate drug targets.


Kenney E, Hawdon JM, O'Halloran D, Eleftherianos I. Heterorhabditis
bacteriophora Excreted-Secreted Products Enable Infection by Photorhabdus
luminescens Through Suppression of the Imd Pathway
. Front Immunol. 2019 Oct

Kitchen S, Ratnappan R, Han S, Leasure C, Grill E, Iqbal Z, Granger O,
O'Halloran DM, Hawdon JM. Isolation and characterization of a naturally occurring
multidrug-resistant strain of the canine hookworm, Ancylostoma caninum
. Int J
Parasitol. 2019 Apr;49(5):397-406.

O'Halloran DM. Genome aware CRISPR gRNA target prediction for parasitic
. Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2019 Jan;227:25-28.

Vadnal J, Granger OG, Ratnappan R, Eleftherianos I, O'Halloran DM, Hawdon JM.
Refined ab initio gene predictions of Heterorhabditis bacteriophora using
. Int J Parasitol. 2018 Jul;48(8):585-590.

Vadnal J, Ratnappan R, Keaney M, Kenney E, Eleftherianos I, O'Halloran D,
Hawdon JM. Identification of candidate infection genes from the model
entomopathogenic nematode Heterorhabditis bacteriophora
. BMC Genomics. 2017 Jan

Ratnappan R, Vadnal J, Keaney M, Eleftherianos I, O'Halloran D, Hawdon JM.
RNAi-mediated gene knockdown by microinjection in the model entomopathogenic
nematode Heterorhabditis bacteriophora
. Parasites and Vectors. 2016 Mar 18;9:160.

Classes Taught

BISC 2220 - Developmental Neurobiology

BISC 2320 - Neural Circuits and Behavior

BISC 4180W - Undergraduate Research Seminar