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Jessica Kissinger

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Distinguished Research Professor
Ph.D. (1995) Indiana University

Research Interests 

How do eukaryotic and organellar genome sequences evolve? Our lab is interested in parasite genomics and the biology of genome evolution. The nuclear and organellar genome sequences of parasitic eukaryotes are often highly-reduced, devoid of recognizable mobile elements and riddled with intracellular and lateral gene transfers. Our approach is to apply molecular, computational and phylogenetic tools to the analysis of complete parasite genome sequences. Projects include the development of tools for data integration, data mining, comparative genomics and the systems biology of host-pathogen interactions. Kissinger is a member of the NIH/NIAID Bioinformatic Resource Center,, leadership team. Research focuses on Toxoplasma gondii, as well several species of Cryptosporidium and Plasmodium. Researchers in our group work at the bench, the computer, or both.

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  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2021
  • Fulbright US Scholar, Fulbright Scholar Program, 2021
  • Fellow, American Society for Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, 2020
  • Distinguished Research Professor, University of Georgia, 2017
  • Richard F. Reiff Internationalization Award, University of Georgia, 2016
  • SEC Academic Leadership Development Program Fellow, 2015-2016
  • Faculty Excellence in Diversity Award, University of Georgia, 2013
  • Creative Research Medal, University of Georgia, 2009
  • National Associate, National Research Council, National Academies of Science, 2008
  • Young Investigator Award, 7th International Congress on Toxoplasmosis, 2004

Recent Professional Service

  • Deputy Director NIAID African Centers of Excellence Global Council (ACE) (2021 – Present)
  • Global Council Member, NIAID African Centers of Excellence (ACE) (2019 – 2021)
  • Technical Advisory Committee NIH D43 Fogarty BRECA award to Makerere Univ. (2019-Present)
  • Scientific Advisory Group, Institute Pasteur de Tunis, EU2020 PHINDaccess (2018 – Present)
  • Chair, Scientific Advisory Board, NIH 1P01AI127338-01A1 (2018 – Present)
  • Training Advisory Committee Member, 1D43TW010045-01 in Uganda (2015 – 2020)
  • Editor, Microbial Genomics (2015 - 2020)
  • Member, Editorial Board of Academic Editors, PeerJ (2012 – 2020)
  • NIAID Systems Biology Data Deposition/Sharing Working Group (2012 – 2019)
  • NIH Human Heredity & Health in Africa (H3Africa) BioNet Scientific Advisory Board (2012 – 2017)
  • NIAID  Scientific Advisory Group Member, West African ICEMR (2013 – 2017)
  • External Advisory Committee, Louisiana NIH INBRE (2011 – 2017)
  • NIAID   Metadata Harmonization Working Group (2014 – 2017)


  • 1989     A.B. cum laude University of Chicago
  • 1995     PhD Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology, Indiana University, Mentor: Rudy Raff
  • 1995-1996 NSF/Sloan post-doctoral Fellow NIH/NIAID/LPD, Mentor: Tom McCutchan
  • 1996-1998 CNPq post-doctoral Fellow CPqRR-FIOCRUZ, Brazil
  • 1998-2002 Post-doc/Lecturer UPENN, Mentor: David Roos
Research Interests:

Systems biology of host-pathogen interactions, Nuclear and organellar genome evolution in eukaryotic parasites, Databases, Ontologies, Data mining and Data integration of 'omics (genome, transcriptome, proteome, metabolome, lipidome), clinical, immunological, epidemiological and experimental metadata.  


Grant Support 

  • NIH 75N93019R00028, “Center for Influenza Disease and Emergence Research (CIDER)” (2021-2028) Role: Co-I

  • NIH R01AI148667, “Capturing the genomic variation present in Cryptosporidium and cryptosporidiosis” (2020-2024) Role: Joint-PI with Travis Glenn
  • "Ensuring Access and Appropriate/Effective Use of Clinical & Epidemiological Datasets for Enteric Pathogens," Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2020-2022), Role: Co-I
  • NIH R21AI144779-01A1, “Detailed analysis of Cryptosporidium non-coding gene expression” (2020 – 2022), Role: PI
  • "Bioinformatics resources for kinetoplastid organisms and their hosts", Wellcome Trust (2020-2024), Role: Co-applicant with Andy Jones & David Roos
  • “THIRM, Thwarting Influenza with RNA-powered Modulators" DARPA (2019-2023), Role: Local PI
  • “Integrated Informatics Resources for Eukaryotic Microbial Pathogens and Invertebrate Vectors of Disease” i.e., NIH/NIAID (2019-2024), Role: Co-I
  • FungiDB: An integrated bioinformatics resource for fungi and oomycetes", Wellcome Trust (2018-2023), Role: Co-Applicant with Andy Jones & David Roos
Selected Publications:


  • Rodrigo P. Baptista, Yiran Li, Adam Sateriale, Mandy J. Sanders, Karen L. Brooks, Alan Tracey, Brendan R. E. Ansell, Aaron R. Jex, Garrett W. Cooper, Ethan D. Smith, Rui Xiao, Jennifer E. Dumaine, Matthew Berriman, Boris Striepen, James A. Cotton and Jessica C. Kissinger. 2022. Long-read assembly and comparative and evidence-based reanalysis of Cryptosporidium genome sequences reveal new biological insights. Genome Res. 2022 Jan;32(1):203-213. doi: 10.1101/gr.275325.121.

  • Amos B, Aurrecoechea C, Barba M, Barreto A, Basenko EY, Bażant W, Belnap R, Blevins AS, Böhme U, Brestelli J, Brunk BP, Caddick M, Callan D, Campbell L, Christensen MB, Christophides GK, Crouch K, Davis K, DeBarry J, Doherty R, Duan Y, Dunn M, Falke D, Fisher S, Flicek P, Fox B, Gajria B, Giraldo-Calderón GI, Harb OS, Harper E, Hertz-Fowler C, Hickman MJ, Howington C, Hu S, Humphrey J, Iodice J, Jones A, Judkins J, Kelly SA, Kissinger JC, Kwon DK, Lamoureux K, Lawson D, Li W, Lies K, Lodha D, Long J, MacCallum RM, Maslen G, McDowell MA, Nabrzyski J, Roos DS, Rund SSC, Schulman SW, Shanmugasundram A, Sitnik V, Spruill D, Starns D, Stoeckert CJ, Tomko SS, Wang H, Warrenfeltz S, Wieck R, Wilkinson PA, Xu L, Zheng J. 2022. VEuPathDB: the eukaryotic pathogen, vector and host bioinformatics resource center.  Nucleic Acids Res. 2022 Jan 7;50(D1):D898-D911. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkab929.

  • Rodrigo P. Baptista, Garrett W. Cooper and Jessica C. Kissinger. 2021.  Challenges for Cryptosporidium population studies. Genes 2021, 12:894

  • Sivaranjani Namasivayam, Wenyuan Xiao, Rodrigo P. Baptista, Erica M. Hall,  Joseph S. Doggett, Karin Troell and Jessica C. Kissinger. 2021. A novel fragmented mitochondrial genome in the protist pathogen Toxoplasma gondii and related tissue coccidia. Genome Research, doi:10.1101/gr.266403.120

  • Peterson MS, Joyner CJ, Brady JA, Wood JS, Cabrera-Mora M, Saney CL, Fonseca LL, Cheng WT, Jiang J, Lapp SA, Soderberg SR, Nural MV, Humphrey JC, Hankus A, Machiah D, Karpuzoglu E, DeBarry JD; MaHPIC-Consortium, Tirouvanziam R, Kissinger JC, Moreno A, Gumber S, Voit EO, Gutiérrez JB, Cordy RJ, Galinski MR. 2021. Clinical recovery of Macaca fascicularis infected with Plasmodium knowlesi. Malar J. 2021 Dec 30;20(1):486. doi: 10.1186/s12936-021-03925-6.

  • Wang W., Peng D., Baptista R.P., Li Y., Mining T., Kissinger J.C. and Tarleton R.L. 2021. Gene family expansion and diversification in Trypanosoma cruzi 2021PLoS Pathogens

  • Li, Yiran, Baptista R.P., A. Sateriale, B. Striepen and Kissinger J.C. 2020. Long Non-coding RNAs During Cryptosporidium parvum Development as Revealed by Stranded RNA-Seq. Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol. 10:608298. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2020.608298

  • J.H. Butler, Baptista R.P, Valenciano, A.L., Conrad, M. R.M., Kissinger J.C., Tumwebaze, P.K., Rosenthal P.J., Cooper R.A., Yue J., Zhou B. and Cassera M.B. 2020. “Mutations in Plasmodium falciparum Pro-drug Activation and Resistance Esterase Mediate Resistance to a Sub-class of Sesquiterpene Dimer Antimalarial Natural Products” ACS Infect Dis. Nov 13;6(11):2994-3003 doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.0c00487

  • Yiran Li, R.P. Baptista and J.C. Kissinger.  2020. Non-coding RNAs in the Apicomplexa: an update.  Trends in Parasitology. Oct;36(10):835-849 DOI:10.1016/

  • Jeremy D. DeBarry, Jessica C. Kissinger, Mustafa V. Nural, Suman B. Pakala, Jay C. Humphrey, Esmeralda V. S. Meyer, Regina Joice Cordy, Monica Cabrera-Mora, Elizabeth D. Trippe, Jacob B. Aguilar, Ebru Karpuzoglu, Yi H. Yan, Jessica A. Brady, Allison N. Hankus, Nicolas Lackman, Alan R. Gingle, Vishal Nayak, Alberto Moreno, Chester J. Joyner,Juan B. Gutierrez, Mary R. Galinski, and the MaHPIC Consortium. 2020. Guidelines for Supporting a Systems Biology Cyberinfrastructure. 19:24 pp-1-12 DOI:10.5334/dsj-2020-024

  • Loic Favennec, Giovanni Widmer, David Carmena, Martin Kvac, Rachel M. Chalmers, Jessica C. Kissinger, Lihua Xiao, Adam Sateriale, Borist Striepen, Fabrice Laurent, Sonia Lacroix Lamande and Gilles Gargala. 2020. Update on Cryptosporidium spp.: Highlights from the Seventh International Giardia and Cryptosporidium Conference. Parasite Vol. 27(14) DOI: 10.1051/parasite/2020011

  • Warrenfeltz S, Kissinger JC; EuPathDB Team. Accessing Cryptosporidium Omic and Isolate Data via Methods Mol Biol. 2020;2052:139-192. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-9748-0_10. PubMed PMID: 31452162.

  • Emmanuel Ruhamyankaka, Brian P. Brunk, Grant Dorsey, Omar S. Harb, Danica A. Helb, John Judkins, Jessica C. Kissinger, Brianna Lindsay, David S. Roos, Christian J. Stoeckert, Jie Zheng, Sheena Shah Tomko. ClinEpiDB: an open-access clinical epidemiology database resource encouraging online exploration of complex studies. 2019 Open Res 2019, 3:1661

  • Joyner CJ, Brito CFA, Saney CL, Joice Cordy R, Smith ML, Lapp SA, Cabrera-Mora M, Kyu S, Lackman N, Nural MV, DeBarry JD; MaHPIC Consortium, Kissinger JC, Styczynski MP, Lee FE, Lamb TJ, Galinski MR. Humoral immunity prevents clinical malaria during Plasmodium relapses without eliminating gametocytes. PLoS Pathog. 2019 Sep 19;15(9):e1007974. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007974. PubMed PMID: 31536608.

  • Baptista RP, Kissinger JC. Is reliance on an inaccurate genome sequence sabotaging your experiments? PLoS Pathog. 2019 Sep 12;15(9):e1007901. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007901. PubMed PMID: 31513692

  • Adam Sateriale, Jan Slapeta, Rodrigo Baptista, Julie B. Engiles, Jodi A. Gullicksrud, Gillian T. Herbert, Carrie F. Brooks, Emily M. Kugler, Jessica C. Kissinger, Christopher A. Hunter, and Boris Striepen. A Genetically Tractable, Natural Mouse Model of Cryptosporidiosis Offers Insights into Host Protective Immunity, Cell Host & Microbe 2019,

  • Cordy RJ, Patrapuvich R, Lili LN, Cabrera-Mora M, Chien J-T, Tharp GK, Khadka M, Meyer EVS, Lapp SA, Joyner CJ, Garcia A, Banton S, Tran V, Luvira V, Rungin S, Saeseu T, Rachaphaew N, Pakala S, DeBarry JD, MaHPIC Consortium, Kissinger JC, Ortland EA, Bosinger SE, Barnwell JW, Jones DP, Uppal K, Li S, Sattabongkot J, Moreno A, Galinski MR.  2019; Distinct amino acid and lipid perturbations characterize acute versus chronic malaria JCI Insight 2019;4(9):e125156

  • Jessica C. Kissinger. Evolution of Cryptosporidium. News & Views. (2019) Nature Microbiology.

  • Warrenfeltz S, Basenko EY, Crouch K, Harb OS, Kissinger JC, Roos DS, Shanmugasundram A,  and Silva-Franco F. EuPathDB: The Eukaryotic Pathogen Genomics Database Resource. 2018. Methods Mol Biol. 2018;1757:69-113. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-7737-6_5.

  • Evelina Y. Basenko, Jane A. Pulman, Achchuthan Shanmugasundram, Omar S. Harb, Kathryn Crouch, David Starns, Susanne Warrenfeltz, Cristina Aurrecoechea, Christian J. Stoeckert Jr., Jessica C. Kissinger, David S.
    Roos, Christiane Hertz-Fowler. FungiDB: An integrated bioinformatic resource for fungi and oomycetes. 2018. Journal of Fungi 2018, 4(1), 39; doi:10.3390/jof4010039   

  • Rodrigo P. Baptista, João Luis R. Cunha, Jeremy DeBarry, Egler Chiari, Jessica C. Kissinger, Daniella C. Bartholomeu and Andréa M. Macedo. Assembly of highly-repetitive genomes using short reads: The genome of DTU III Trypanosoma cruzi strain 231, 2018 Microb Genom. 2018 Feb 14. doi: 10.1099/mgen.0.000156

  • Jessica C. Kissinger, Karen E. Hermetz, Keith M. Woodsd, Steve J. Upton. Enrichment of Cryptosporidium parvum from in vitro culture as measured by total RNA and subsequent sequence analysis. 2018 Mol Biochem Parasitol.  doi: 10.1016/j.molbiopara.2017.12.004115        

  • Animesh Dhara, Rodrigo de Paula Baptista, Jessica C. Kissinger, E. Charles Snow and Anthony P. Sinai, Ablation of an OTU-family deubiquitinase exposed the underlying regulation governing the plasticity of cell cycle progression in Toxoplasma gondii 2017 mBio 8:e01846-17

  • John Brestelli, Francislon S. Oliveira, Shon Cade, Jie Zheng, John Iodice, Steve Fischer, Cristina Aurrecoechea, Jessica C. Kissinger, Brian P. Brunk, Christian J. Stoeckert Jr., Gabriel R. Fernandes, David S. Roos, Daniel P. Beiting. MicrobiomeDB: a systems biology platform for integrating, mining and analyzing microbiome experiments. BioRxiv  and Nov 2017 Nucleic Acids Research, gkx1027

  • Elizabeth D. Trippe, Jacob B. Aguilar, Yi H. Yan, Mustafa V. Nural, Jessica A. Brady, Mehdi Assefi, Saeid Safaei, Mehdi Allahyari, Seyedamin Pouriyeh, Mary R. Galinski, Jessica C. Kissinger, Juan B. Gutierrez. A Vision for Health Informatics: Introducing the SKED Framework. An Extensible Architecture for Scientific Knowledge Extraction from Data. 2017 arXiv

  • Yan Tang, Chester J. Joyner, Monica Cabrera-Mora, Celia L. Saney, Stacey A. Lapp, Mustafa V. Nural, Suman B. Pakala, Jeremy D. DeBarry, Stephanie Soderberg, the MaHPIC Consortium, Jessica C. Kissinger, Tracey J. Lamb, Mary R. Galinski and Mark P. Styczynski.  Integrative analysis associates monocytes with insufficient erythropoiesis during acute Plasmodium cynomolgi malaria in rhesus macaques. Malar J. 2017 Sep 22;16(1):384. doi: 10.1186/s12936-017-2029-z

  • S. A. Lapp, J-T. Chien, S. Pakala, J.A. Geraldo, G. Batugedara, F. Ay, J. Humphrey, J.D. DeBarry, K.G.  Le Roch, M.R. Galinski and J.C. Kissinger. PacBio assembly of a Plasmodium knowlesi genome sequence with Hi-C correction and manual annotation of the SICAvar gene family Parasitology. 2017 Jul 19:1-14. doi: 10.1017/S0031182017001329

  • Nathan M. Chasen, Beejan Asady, Leandro Lemgruber; Rossiane C. Vommaro, Jessica C. Kissinger, Isabelle Coppens, and Silvia N.J. Moreno.  A GPI-anchored Carbonic Anhydrase-Related Protein of Toxoplasma gondii is Important for Rhoptry Biogenesis and Virulence. 2017. mSphere. 2017 May 17;2(3). pii: e00027-17. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00027-17

  • Ousman Mahmud and Jessica C. Kissinger. Evolution of the Apicomplexan Sugar Transporter Gene Family Repertoire, International Journal of Genomics, vol. 2017, Article ID 1707231.  2017. doi:10.1155/2017/1707231
  • Cristina Aurrecoechea; Ana Barreto; Evelina Y. Basenko; John Brestelli; Brian P. Brunk; Shon Cade; Kathryn Crouch; Ryan Doherty; Dave Falke; Steve Fischer; Bindu Gajria; Omar S. Harb; Mark Heiges; Christiane Hertz-Fowler; Sufen Hu; John Iodice; Jessica C. Kissinger; Cris Lawrence; Wei Li; Deborah F. Pinney; Jane A. Pulman; David S. Roos; Achchuthan Shanmugasundram; Fatima Silva-Franco; Sascha Steinbiss; Christian J. Stoeckert Jr; Drew Spruill; Haiming Wang; Susanne Warrenfeltz; Jie Zheng. EuPathDB: the eukaryotic pathogen genomics database resource Nucleic Acids Research. 2017 doi: 10.1093/nar/gkw1105

  • Ifeonu OO, Chibucos MC, Orvis J, Su Q, Elwin K, Guo F, Zhang H, Xiao L, Sun M, Chalmers RM, Fraser CM, Zhu G, Kissinger JC, Widmer G, Silva JC. Annotated draft genome sequences of three species of Cryptosporidium: Cryptosporidium meleagridis isolate UKMEL1, C. baileyi isolate TAMU-09Q1 and C. hominis isolates TU502_2012 and UKH1. Pathog Dis. 2016 Oct;74(7)  doi: 10.1093/femspd/ftw080

  • Olukemi O. Ifeonu, Raphael Simon, Sharon M. Tennant, Abhineet S. Sheoran, Maria C. Daly, Victor Felix, Jessica C. Kissinger, Giovanni Widmer, Myron M. Levine, Saul Tzipori and Joana C. Silva. Cryptosporidium hominis Gene Catalog: a resource for the selection of novel Cryptosporidium vaccine candidates. Database (2016) doi: 10.1093/database/baw137

  • Chester J. Joyner, Alberto Moreno, Esmeralda V.S. Meyer, Monica Cabrera-Mora, the MaHPIC  Consortium, Jessica C. Kissinger, John W. Barnwell and Mary R. Galinski. Plasmodium cynomolgi infections in rhesus macaques display clinical and parasitological features pertinent to modeling vivax malaria pathology and relapse infections. Malaria Journal 2016 Sep 2;15(1):451.

  • Jung-Ting Chien, Suman Pakala, Juliana A. Geraldo, Stacey A. Lapp, Jay C. Humphrey, John W. Barnwell, Jessica C. Kissinger and Mary R Galinski. A High-Quality Genome Assembly and Annotation for Plasmodium coatneyi Generated Using Single Molecule Real-Time PacBio Technology. (2016) In Genome Announcements  2016 Sep 1;4(5). pii: e00883-16. doi: 10.1128/genomeA.00883-16.

  • Jessica C. Kissinger. An unsettling picture emerges from population genomic studies of Plasmodium vivax. Nature Genetics 48(8):825-826 (2016) doi:10.1038/ng.3630

  • Nyasa RB, Kimbi HK, Zofou D, DeBarry JD, Kissinger JC, Titanji VP. An evolutionary approach to identify potentially protective B cell epitopes involved in naturally acquired immunity to malaria and the role of EBA-175 in protection amongst denizens of Bolifamba, Cameroon. Malar J. 2016 May 20;15(1):281. doi: 10.1186/s12936-016-1337-z

  • Staffan Bensch, Björn Canbäck, Jeremy D. DeBarry, Thomas Johansson, Olof Hellgren, Jessica C. Kissinger, Vaidas Palinauskas, Elin Videvall and Gediminas Valkiūnas. The genome of Haemoproteus tartakovskyi and its relationship to human malaria parasites. Genome Biology & Evolution, 2016 doi:10.1093/gbe/evw081

  • Hernan Lorenzi, Asis Khan, Michael Behnke, Sivaranjani Namasivayam, L Swapna, Michalis Hadjithomas, Svetlana Karamycheva, Deborah Pinney, B Brunk, James Ajioka, Daniel Ajzenberg, John Boothroyd, Jon Boyle, Marie-Laure Dardé, Maria Alejandra Diaz-Miranda, J Dubey, H Fritz, SOLANGE Gennari, Brian Gregory, Kami Kim, Jeroen Saeij, Chunlei Su, Michael White, Xing-Quan Zhu, Daniel Howe, B Rosenthal, Michael Grigg, John Parkinson, Liang Liu, Jessica Kissinger, David Roos, and L Sibley. Local admixture of amplified and diversified secreted pathogenesis determinants shapes mosaic Toxoplasma gondii genomes"   Nature Commun. 2016 Jan 7;7:10147. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10147

Events featuring Jessica Kissinger
Articles Featuring Jessica Kissinger
Monday, April 4, 2022 - 1:14pm

Dr. Jessica Kissinger not only studies deadly pathogens like malaria and Cryptosporidium (a waterborne parasite), but also is a driving force behind worldwide, groundbreaking collaborations on novel databases. During her time at UGA, she has received nearly $40…

Thursday, January 27, 2022 - 2:18pm

In a tradition stretching back to 1874, AAAS Fellows are elected annually by the AAAS Council for their extraordinary achievements leading to the advancement of science. Jessica…

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 8:09am

University of Georgia geneticist Jessica Kissinger has been elected a 2020 American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Fellow. Kissinger’s research focuses on parasite genomics and the biology of genome evolution.

Monday, January 26, 2015 - 3:37pm

Genetics scientist was featured in the Columns:

A genome database team led by University of Pennsylvania and UGA scientists has been awarded a new contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases worth $4.3 million in 2014-2015…

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