Opening Talk Speaker

Bill Sullivan

Bill Sullivan, Ph.D.

Author and Professor, Indiana University School of Medicine

"The State of the Field"

Bill Sullivan is a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine and an author. His Ph.D. thesis at the University of Pennsylvania was on his discovery of genes responsible for drug-resistance in Toxoplasma gondii. He has written for a number of popular science outlets and is an editor and writer at PLOS SciComm, a blog site dedicated to the art of science and medical communication. In 2014, he co-founded my own popular science blog called THE ‘SCOPE, which aims to talk about science in a lighthearted and entertaining way.

He is the author of the book Pleased to Meet Me, Genes, Germs, and the Curious Forces that Make US Who We Are, which was released by National Geographic Books on August 6, 2019.

You can also purchase Toxoplasma merchandise from his website store.

Research Description

The Sullivan Lab studies cellular signaling and the regulation of gene expression in a fascinating protozoan parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasma, a relative of the malarial parasite, causes congenital birth defects, as well as opportunistic infection in HIV/AIDS, cancer chemotherapy, and heart transplant patients. There is also emerging evidence that this parasitic infection may be linked to neurological disorders, such as schizophrenia and behavior modification. While the acute stage of toxoplasmosis can be treated, the ability of the parasite to convert into latent tissue cysts prevents eradication of the infection from the patient. Unfortunately, if immunity wanes, the patient can relapse and suffer additional episodes of life-threatening acute infection. Additionally, Toxoplasma is a serious threat to some wildlife and livestock. We hypothesize that the proteins controlling parasite gene expression at epigenetic, transcriptional, and translational levels may represent novel drug targets to fight Toxoplasma and other infectious diseases.

Selected Publications

See a list of articles and other writings on his website

  1. Psychology Today: “Dear Dr. Melfi: Regarding Your Patient, Mr. Tony Soprano…“, 7/8/19

  2. The Conversation: “Is the Brain Parasite Toxoplasma Manipulating Your Behavior, or is Your Immune System to Blame?”, 5/14/19

  3. PLOS SciComm: “Predatory Publishers Want To Write Your Autobiography!”, 2/11/19

  4. A Science Enthusiast: “A Scientist Reviews Products in the ‘Sharper Image’ Catalog, Hilarity Ensues,” 12/19/18

  5. PLOS SciComm: “Is It Time for Pre-Publication Peer Review to Die?”, 8/28/18

  6. COSMOS: “If Parasites Had Dating Profiles,” 7/20/18 (originally appeared in THE ‘SCOPE 7/18/18)

  7. ASBMB Today: “How to Serve up a Killer Research Seminar,” 5/15/18