Professional Profile

image for Alam, Sumiti Vinayak

Alam, Sumiti Vinayak

Associate Professor
2001 South Lincoln Ave.
Rm 2225 (office), 2228 (Lab.)
M/C 002
Urbana, IL  61802


  • Ph.D in Molecular Parasitology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India
  • M.S. in Biotechnology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, India
  • B.S (Honors) in Microbiology, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India

Academic Positions

> Assistant Research Scientist, Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases. University of Georgia, Athens GA

> Postdoctoral Research Associate, Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases, University of Georgia, Athens GA

> Postdoctoral Research Associate, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Atlanta GA


Dr. Vinayak’s research over the years has focused on the genetics and molecular biology of three protozoan parasites-Cryptosporidium parvum, Toxoplasma gondii and Plasmodium falciparum She received her Ph.D in molecular parasitology from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India. Her Ph.D research was focused on characterizing genes in the non-mevalonate pathway of isoprenoid biosynthesis that operates in the apicoplast of P. falciparum. After graduate school, Dr. Vinayak joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a postdoctoral fellow where her research was focused on understanding the origins and evolution of antimalarial drug resistance in P. falciparum (Vinayak et al 2010, PLoS Path.; Vinayak et al 2010, J Infect. Dis.). After that, she conducted research at the Center for Tropical & Emerging Global Diseases, University of Georgia in the laboratory of Dr. Boris Striepen (now at UPenn). At UGA, she developed a large-insert fosmid library that covers 95% of the T. gondii genes, and established a robust recombineering method for functional genetics in T. gondii (Vinayak et al 2014, mBio). Dr. Vinayak’s recent groundbreaking research has been the powerful system she has developed to genetically manipulate the diarrheal parasite C. parvum (Vinayak et al 2015, Nature). Leveraging on the molecular genetics for C. parvum, she developed a robust in vivo mouse model for testing the efficacy of anti-cryptosporidial compounds (Manjunatha, Vinayak et al 2017 Nature). Dr. Vinayak has presented her research work at various scientific meetings and have been the recipient of the ASTMH Young Investigator Award (2009), Scientific Excellence award by the American Committee of Molecular, Cellular and Immunoparasitology (ACMCIP) (2015), and the best talk award at the International Congress on Toxoplasmosis (2015). While at UGA, Dr. Vinayak received a Grand Challenges Exploration grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In August 2017, Dr. Vinayak joined as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. She gained tenure as an Associate Professor in 2023.

Research Interests

My research is focused on the genetics of Cryptosporidium parvum, a protozoan parasite that causes diarrheal disease (Cryptosporidiosis) in humans and animals. Cryptosporidium is the second leading pathogen after rotavirus to cause life-threatening diarrhea and developmental stunting in young children. It is also an opportunistic pathogen and causes severe disease in HIV/AIDS patients and organ transplant recipients. In addition to being a human pathogen, C. parvum is a common ruminant pathogen, that causes huge economic losses to the agricultural industry. Currently, there are no effective drugs or vaccines to treat or prevent Cryptosporidiosis. The Cryptosporidium field has been lagging behind due to lack of continuous culture system, poor animal models, and lack of genetic tools (until recently!). I have established a powerful technology to genetically manipulate this important pathogen (Vinayak et al, Nature 2017). Taking advantage of transgenic C. parvum parasite lines, I have developed a robust mouse model for testing the efficacy of anti-cryptosporidial compounds (Manjunatha, Vinayak et al 2017, Nature). The transformation of C. parvum into a genetically tractable organism will enhance our understanding of the basic biology of the parasite, and accelerate drug discovery and vaccine development efforts.

In my laboratory, we employ a combination of genetics, genomics and cell biological approaches to understand parasite biology, and identify molecular targets for developing novel therapeutics for disease intervention.

For more information and job opportunities, please visit Dr. Vinayak’s laboratory website:

Selected Publications

For Full list of publications :

> Choudhary HH, Nava G, Gartlan BE, Rose S, Vinayak S. A conditional protein degradation system to study essential gene function in Cryptosporidium parvum. mBio 2020; 11: e01231-20.

> Sateriale A, Pawlowic M, Vinayak S, Striepen B. Genetic manipulation of Cryptosporidium parvum with CRISPR/Cas9. Methods in Molecular Biology 2020, 2052: 219-228.

> Baragaña B, Forte B, Choi R, Nakazawa Hewitt S, Bueren-Calabuig JA, Pisco JP, Peet C, Dranow DM, Robinson DA, Jansen C, Norcross NR, Vinayak S, Anderson M, Brooks CF, Cooper CA, Damerow S, Delves M, Dowers K, Duffy J, Edwards TE, Hallyburton I, Horst BG, Hulverson MA, Ferguson L, Jiménez-Díaz MB, Jumani RS, Lorimer DD, Love MS, Maher S, Matthews H, McNamara CW, Miller P, O’Neill S, Ojo KK, Osuna-Cabello M, Pinto E, Post J, Riley J, Rottmann M, Sanz LM, Scullion P, Sharma A, Shepherd SM, Shishikura Y, Simeons FRC, Stebbins EE, Stojanovski L, Straschil U, Tamaki FK, Tamjar J, Torrie LS, Vantaux A, Witkowski B, Wittlin S, Yogavel M, Zuccotto F, Angulo-Barturen I, Sinden R, Baum J, Gamo FJ, Mäser P, Kyle DE, Winzeler EA, Myler PJ, Wyatt PG, Floyd D, Matthews D, Sharma A, Striepen B, Huston CD, Gray DW, Fairlamb AH, Pisliakov AV, Walpole C, Read KD, Van Voorhis WC, Gilbert IH. Lysyl-tRNA synthetase as a drug target in malaria and cryptosporidiosis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 2019, 116:7015-7020.

> Manjunatha UH*, Vinayak S*, Sy T, Chao AT, Noble CG, Bonamy G, Brooks CF, Herbert GT, Sateriale A, Tandel J, Kondreddi RR, Noh S, Zou B, Gedeck P, Lakshminarayana SB, Blasco F, Lim SH, Goodman LB, Yeung BKS, Bodenreider C, Simon O, Feng G, Wagner J, Leong FJ, Zambriski JA, Striepen B, Diagana TT. A Cryptosporidium PI(4)K inhibitor is a drug candidate for pediatric cryptosporidiosis. Nature 2017, 546: 376-380 (* Equal contribution)

=> Research highlights in Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology. Unlocking the ‘crypto’ drug cabinet.

=> Research highlights in Nature Drug Discovery. Decrypting Cryptosporidium.

=> Research spotlight in Trends in Parasitology. New Tools for Cryptosporidium Lead to New Hope for Cryptosporidiosis.

> Hulverson MA, Vinayak S*, Choi R, Schaefer DA, Castellanos-Gonzalez A, Vidadala RSR, Brooks CF, Betzer DP, Whittman GR, Sparks HN, Arnold SLM, Rivas KL, Barrett LK, White AC, Maly DJ, Riggs MW, Striepen B, Voorhis WV, Ojo KK. Bumped-kinase inhibitors for the therapy of Cryptosporidiosis. Journal of Infectious Diseases 2017, 215:1275-1284 (* Equal contribution)

> Pawlowic MC, Vinayak S, Sateriale A, Brooks C, Striepen B. Generating and maintaining transgenic Cryptosporidium parvum parasites. Current Protocols in Microbiology 2017, 46: 20B.2.1-20B.2.32

> Arnold SLM, Choi R, Hulverson MA, Schaefer DA, Vinayak S, Vidadala RSR, McCloskey MC, Whitman GR, Huang W, Barrett LK, Ojo KK, Maly DJ, Riggs MW, Striepen B, Voorhis WV. Necesity of Bumped kinase inhibitor gastrointestinal exposure in treating Cryptosporidium infection. Journal of Infectious Diseases 2017, 216 :55-63

> Vinayak S, Pawlowic MC, Sateriale A, Brooks CF, Studstill CJ, Bar-Peled Y, Cipriano MJ, Striepen B. Genetic modification of the diarrhoeal pathogen Cryptosporidium parvum. Nature 2015, 523:477-480

=> Featured in Nature News and Views. CRISPR for Cryptosporidium.

=> Research highlights in Nature Reviews Genetics. C. parvum gets the CRISPR upgrade.

=> Research spotlight in Trends in Parasitology. Cryptosporidium: a first step toward tractability.

=> Recommended as “exceptional” by Faculty of 1000

> Vinayak S, Brooks CF, Naumov A, Suvorova ES, White MW, Striepen B. Genetic manipulation of Toxoplasma gondii genome using fosmid recombineering. mBio 2014, 5.pii:e02021-14

> Vinayak S, Alam MT, Mixson-Hayden T, McCollum AM, Sem R, Shah NK, Lim P, Muth S, Rogers WO, Fandeur T, Barnwell JW, Escalante AA, Wongsrichanalai C, Ariey F, Meshnick SR, Udhayakumar V. Origin and evolution of sulfadoxine resistant Plasmodium falciparum. PLoS Pathogens 2010, 6:e1000830

> Vinayak S, Alam MT, Sem R, Shah NK, Susanti AI, Lim P, Muth S, Maguire JD, Rogers WO, Fandeur T, Barnwell JW, Escalante AA, Wongsrichanalai C, Ariey F, Meshnick SR, Udhayakumar V. Multiple genetic backgrounds of the amplified Plasmodium falciparum multidrug resistance (pfmdr1) gene and selective sweep of 184F mutation in Cambodia. Journal of Infectious Diseases 2010, 201:1551-1560 (Cover Page Article)


Striepen B, Vinayak S, Brooks C.F. Cryptosporidium transfection methods and transfected Cryptosporidium cells. U.S. Patent Application number PCT/US2014/049386, Publication number WO2015017767 A1 (published February 5, 2015)

Honors and Awards

> 2015: Scientific excellence award by the American Committee of Molecular, Cellular and Immunoparasitology (ACMCIP) for the best oral presentation at the 26th Annual Molecular Parasitology Meeting (MPM), Woods Hole, MA

> 2015: Best talk award at the 13th Biennial International Congress on Toxoplasmosis and Toxoplasma gondii Biology, Gettysburg, PA

> 2009: Young Investigator Award at the 58th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), Washington DC, USA


  • NIH, R21 grant (Role: PI); 02/01/2019 to 01/31/ 2021.
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Exploration Award (Role: PI); 05/01/2017 to 10/31/2019.
  • USDA NIFA Hatch Multistate Fund (Role: PI); 10/01/2017 to 09/30/2019.



Selected Service Activities

Ad-hoc reviewer for the journals: Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy; Journal of Infectious Diseases; International Journal for Parasitology; Experimental Parasitology; Nature Scientific Reports; Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology; PLoS ONE