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The Sullivan Lab

at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, IN



We study the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which can cause congenital birth defects, ocular disease, and opportunistic infection in HIV/AIDS. Learn more about what we do.



Learn more about Dr. Bill Sullivan and the postdoctoral fellows and graduate students working in the lab.



Here you will find a list of our publications, press releases, and student dissertatons.

Toxoplasma gondii

Research Synopsis


We hypothesize that the proteins controlling signaling and gene expression at epigenetic, transcriptional, and translational levels may represent novel drug targets to fight Toxoplasma and other infectious diseases.


New publication: "A transcriptional network required for bradyzoite development in Toxoplasma gondii is dispensable for recrudescent disease" in Nature Communications (September, 2023)

New publication: "Histone variant H2B.Z acetylation is necessary for maintenance of Toxoplasma gondii biological fitness" in Biochim Biophys Acta Gene Regul Mech (May, 2023)

New publication: "Toxoplasma gondii AP2XII-2 Contributes to Transcriptional Repression for Sexual Commitment" in mSphere (February, 2023)

New publication: "Eukaryotic Initiation Factor 2α Kinases Regulate Virulence Functions, Stage Conversion, and the Stress Response in Entamoeba invadens" in mSphere (June, 2022)


New publication: "Genome-wide localization of histone variants in Toxoplasma gondii implicates variant exchange in stage-specific gene expression" in BMC Genomics (February, 2022)


New publication: "Rebound of cyst number following discontinuation of guanabenz treatment for latent toxoplasmosis" in MBP (September, 2021)

New publication: "m6A RNA methylation facilitates pre-mRNA 3'-end formation and is essential for viability of Toxoplasma gondii" in PLOS Pathogens (July, 2021)

New publication: "Making it personal: science communication for the masses" in Trends in Parasitology (June, 2021)

New publication: "TgIF2K-B Is an eIF2α Kinase in Toxoplasma gondii That Responds to Oxidative Stress and Optimizes Pathogenicity" in mBio. (January, 2021) 


New publication: "Host sensing and signal transduction during Toxoplasma stage conversion" in Molecular Microbiology (October, 2020)

New publication: "Toxoplasma gondii AP2XII-2 Contributes to Proper Progression through S-Phase of the Cell Cycle" in mSphere. (September, 2020)

New publication: "Emerging Therapeutic Targets Against Toxoplasma gondii: Update on DNA Repair Response Inhibitors and Genotoxic Drugs" in Front Cell Infect Microbiol. (July, 2020)


New publication: "Toxoplasma gondii Co-opts the Unfolded Protein Response To Enhance Migration and Dissemination of Infected Host Cells" in mBio (July, 2020)

New publication: "Efficacy of Guanabenz Combination Therapy Against Chronic Toxoplasmosis Across Multiple Mouse Strains" in Antimicrobial Agents & Chemotherapy. (June, 2020)

New publication: "Mastering Toxoplasma sex and sleep" in Nature Microbiology (March, 2020)


New publication: "Evaluating the GCN5b bromodomain as a novel therapeutic target against the parasite Toxoplasma gondii" in Experimental Parasitology (March, 2020)

Mike Holmes received a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the American Heart Association (December, 2019)

Jen Martynowicz successfully defended her PhD thesis (December, 2019)

New publication: "Repositioning of guanabenz in conjugation with gold and silver nanoparticles against pathogenic amoebae Acanthamoeba castellanii and Naegleria fowleri" in ACS Infect Dis (October, 2019)


New publication: "Phosphorylation of Eukaryotic Initiation Factor 2-α in Response to Endoplasmic Reticulum and Nitrosative Stress in the human protozoan parasite, Entamoeba histolytica" in Mol Biochem Parasitol (October, 2019)

Jen Martynowicz was the recipient of the 2019 Erica Daniel Kepner Award for Scientific Achievement.


New publication: "A novel GCN5b lysine acetyltransferase complex associates with distinct transcription factors in the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii" in Mol Biochem Parasitol (August, 2019)


Jen Martynowicz received the 2020 Madri Scholarship (July, 2019)


New publication: "Regulation of arginine transport by GCN2 eIF2 kinase is important for replication of the intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii" in PLOS Pathogens. (June, 2019)

Press release.


Jen Martynowicz received the Harold Raidt Graduate Student Teaching Award. (June, 2019)


New publication: "Simultaneous Ribosome Profiling of Human Host Cells Infected with Toxoplasma gondii" in mSphere. (June, 2019)


New publication: "Characterization of protein arginine methyltransferase of TgPRMT5 in Toxoplasma gondii" in Parasit Vectors. (May, 2019)


New publication: "Guanabenz Reverses a Key Behavioral Change Caused by Latent Toxoplasmosis in Mice by Reducing Neuroinflammation" in MBio. (April, 2019)

ASM Press Release

IUSM Press Release.

Article at The Conversation

Discussed on Zombified podcast (~48m).

Dr. Sullivan was awarded an R21 grant from NIH, “Epitranscriptomics in the AIDS-opportunistic pathogen Toxoplasma gondii” (March, 2019)


New publication: "Evaluation of ATM Kinase Inhibitor KU-55933 as Potential Anti-Toxoplasma gondii Agent." in Front Cell Infect Microbiol. (February, 2019)


New publication: "TgDrpC, an atypical dynamin-related protein in Toxoplasma gondii, is associated with vesicular transport factors and parasite division" in Molecular Microbiology (October, 2018)


Jen Martynowicz received the 2019 Madri Scholarship (September, 2018)


New publication: Effects of PERK eIF2α kinase inhibitor against Toxoplasma gondii" in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (September, 2018)


Dr. Sullivan's article, "How to serve up a killer research seminar," published in ASBMB Today (May, 2018)


New publication: "Transcriptional repression by ApiAP2 factors is central to chronic toxoplasmosis" in PLOS Pathogens (May, 2018)


Vicki Jeffers wrote a piece for the Royal Society of Biology: "Parasite Puppetmasters " (April, 2018)


New publication: "A latent ability to persist: differentiation in Toxoplasma gondii." in Cell Mol Life Sci (April, 2018)


Jen Martynowicz received the 2018 Madri Scholarship (February, 2018)


Vicki Jeffers was awarded a research grant from IUSM Center for AIDS Research (January, 2018)


New publication: "Elp3 and RlmN: A tale of two mitochondrial tail-anchored radical SAM enzymes in Toxoplasma gondii" in PLOS ONE (January, 2018)


New publication: "Inhibiting the Plasmodium eIF2α Kinase PK4 Prevents Artemisinin-Induced Latency" in Cell Host & Microbe (December, 2017)


BLOG: Depriving Parasites of Their Shelter from the Storm.

Cell Preview: Plasmodium Peekaboo: PK4 Mediates Parasite Latency

Nature Reviews Microbiology: Parasite biology: Keeping Plasmodium awake

F1000Prime recommended.


New publication: "Characterization of Plasmodium Atg3-Atg8 interaction inhibitors identifies novel alternative mechanisms of action in Toxoplasma gondii." in Antimicrobial Agents & Chemotherapy (November, 2017)


Dr. Sullivan talks about Toxoplasma, zombies and more on The Naked Scientists (October, 2017)


New publication: "Translational Control in the Latency of Apicomplexan Parasites" in Trends Parasitol (September, 2017)


Read the SCIENCE TRENDS interview with Dr. Sullivan (September, 2017


New publication: "Autophagy participates in the unfolded protein response in Toxoplasma gondii" in FEMS Microbiol Lett. (September, 2017)


Leo Augusto won a Poster Award at the 2017 Midwest Neglected Infectious Disease meeting at Notre Dame, IN. (August, 2017)


Read our new IUSM blog entry "Don’t let Toxoplasma rain on your summer fun!"


Joe Varberg (Arrizabalaga and Sullivan Labs) was awarded his Ph.D. after successfully defending his thesis (June, 2017)


Dr. Bill Sullivan explains how to avoid parasite infections this summer. Watch the video here.


Read our article "Repurposing drugs to fight deadly infections" at the IUSM Research Blogs.


New publication: "The common parasite Toxoplasma gondii induces prostatic inflammation and microglandular hyperplasia in a mouse model" in Prostate (May, 2017)

Read more about this work at the IUSM Research Blogs and THE 'SCOPE.


Leah Padgett was awarded her Ph.D. after successfully defending her thesis (May, 2017)


Dr. Sullivan's talk, "Unsung Heroes In Our Battle Against Infectious Disease," given for the John Shaw Billings History of Medicine Society, can be watched here. (April, 2017).


New publication: "Toxoplasma gondii AP2IX-4 Regulates Gene Expression during Bradyzoite Development" in mSphere. (March, 2017)


New publication: "Mitochondrial behavior throughout the lytic cycle of Toxoplasma gondii" in Sci Rep. (February, 2017)


New publication: "TgPRELID, a Mitochondrial Protein Linked to Multidrug Resistance in the Parasite Toxoplasma gondii" in mSphere (February, 2017)



New publication: "Toxoplasma gondii AP2IX-4 regulates gene expression during bradyzoite development" in BioRxiv (Janurary, 2017)


New publication: "Transcriptional repression by ApiAP2 factors is central to chronic toxoplasmosis" in BioRxiv (January, 2017)


New publication: "Bromodomains in Protozoan Parasites: Evolution, Function, and Opportunities for Drug Development." in Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. (January, 2017)


Sherri Huang was awarded her Ph.D. after successfully defending her thesis (January, 2017)


Jen Martynowicz was awarded a position on the Immunology and Infectious Disease Training Grant (January, 2017)


New publication: "Targeting of tail-anchored membrane proteins to subcellular organelles in Toxoplasma gondii" in Traffic (December, 2016).


New publication: "Phosphorylation of Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-2α during Stress and Encystation in Entamoeba Species" in PLoS Pathogens (December, 2016)


Dr. Sullivan was a consultant for "Why Do Bacteria Develop Antibiotic Resistance?" - Everyday Elements on YouTube. (November 2016).


Dr. Sullivan contributed tips on surviving graduate school for the ASBMB #gradschooltips campaign - article and video here (August 2016).


Stephen Fakoyejo's summer SRPinAM research is selected for oral presentation (August, 2016) 


Jen Martynowicz is the first recipient of the Joseph and Lucille Madri Scholarship (July 2016)


Joe Varberg's PhRMA Foundation research is featured in their 2015 Annual Report (July 2016)


Dr. Sullivan received a Showalter Professor Award for 2016-2017 (July 2016)


Dr. Sullivan was interviewed by CNN about the health risks associated with Toxoplasma and cats (June 2016)


Our PLOS ONE paper, “Proteome-Wide Lysine Acetylation in Cortical Astrocytes and Alterations That Occur during Infection with Brain Parasite Toxoplasma gondii”, has been specially selected to be included in the PLOS ONE Editor’s Pick’s Collection Microbiology.


Just launched! The Biology of Intracellular Pathogens (BIP) at IUSM web site.


Dr. Sullivan was interviewed by THE SCIENTIST to discuss science communication (February 2016). 


Dr. Sullivan was a panelist on Dr. Mike's SciComm podcast to discuss the role of Twitter in science communication (January, 2016).


New publication: "Garcinol inhibits GCN5-mediated lysine acetyltransferase activity and prevents replication of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii" in Antimicrobial Agents & Chemotherapy (January, 2016).


New publication: "TgATAT-Mediated α-Tubulin Acetylation Is Required for Division of the Protozoan ParasiteToxoplasma gondii" in mSphere (January 2016).



Leah Padgett received a Paradise Travel Grant (January, 2016).


"Daraprim: The 62 Year Old $750 Pill" on THE 'SCOPE (January, 2016).


New publication: "An ensemble of specifically targeted proteins stabilizes cortical microtubules in the human parasite Toxoplasma gondii." in Mol Biol Cell (December, 2015). FEATURED ON COVER.


Dr. Sullivan spoke to The Examiner about Toxoplasma for a two part series (December, 2015):

     Did Your Cat Bring You A Parasite?

     Can A Cat Parasite Affect Your Mental Health?


Dr. Sullivan will be the featured scientist on BIOTWEEPS for the week of December 7. Follow along on Facebook or Twitter: @wjsullivan or @biotweeps.


New publication: "Preventing friendly fire in the war on microbes" in Science Translational Medicine (October, 2015)

Dr. Sullivan's interview on SWR2 German Public Radio.


New publication: "Guanabenz repurposed as an anti-parasitic with activity against acute and latent toxoplasmosis." in Antimicrob Agents Chemother. (September, 2015).




Congratulations to Vicki Jeffers for winning the 2015 Outstanding Postdoc Award (September, 2015)


Congratulations to Leah Padgett for winning the 2015 Outstanding Graduate Student Volunteer Award (September, 2015)


Michael Harris was selected for NIH T32 postdoctoral support (September, 2015).


"Played by a Parasite", co-written by Drs. Sullivan and Arrizabalaga, was published in Scientific American Special Issue, "Dogs & Cats" (Fall, 2015).


Dr. Sullivan has been nominated for a Social Media Award as a "Malaria Hero". You can vote for him here


Our research was featured in The Indianapolis Star, "If crafty parasite does this to mice, how about people?" (June, 2015).


New publication: "The cytoplasmic prolyl-tRNA synthetase of the malaria parasite is a dual-stage target of febrifugine and its analogs." in Science Transl Med (May, 2015).


Leah Padgett received a predoctoral fellowship award from the AHA (May, 2015)


We won the IUSM "Buzzfeed Research Contest" with the article "8 Cuddly Creatures and the Dark, Deadly Diseases They Carry" (May, 2015).


Dr. Sullivan's article, "Can An Infection Alter Your Epigenome?" now published at "What Is Epigenetics?" (May, 2015).


New publication: "Proteome-Wide Lysine Acetylation in Cortical Astrocytes and Alterations That Occur during Infection with Brain Parasite Toxoplasma gondii."

PLOS ONE (March, 2015).


Featured on IFLScience.

Dr. Sullivan discussed this study on the April 8, 2015 edition of Science Update with Bob Hirshon. List

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