Name: Esar Aysanoa Moore
Mentor: Eric P. Skaar
My name is Esar Aysanoa and I majored in Microbiology and Parasitology at Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (UNMSM). Back home, I’m currently finishing my undergraduate thesis at Naval Medical Research Unit Number 6 (NAMRU-6). My thesis focuses on the detection of Trypanosoma cruzi in non-human primates, which serve as reservoirs for this protozoan parasite.
At Vanderbilt, I was very fortunate to join Dr. Eric Skaar’s lab, where they are interested in studying the interaction between bacterial pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Acinetobacter baumannii and Bacillus anthracis and their vertebrate hosts. More specifically, I’m evaluating drugs that could potentially inhibit S. aureus’ production of toxins, as well as elucidating the genes involved in S. aureus survival and pathogenesis in the bone.
I applied to VISRA because I’m eager to learn and gain experience in microbiology, which will probably be the focus of my graduate degree. I’m particularly interested in microbial pathogens -the etiological agents of infectious diseases- and public health, so the Skaar lab was a great place to start. I learnt a lot during VISRA and I must say it was a truly hands-on research experience in which I had access to tools and techniques that were new to me. Everyone has been really helpful and I’m very glad I chose this lab. I would especially like to thank Jim Cassat for his outstanding mentorship, guidance and support. Jim and I worked side by side during my 8-week rotation at the Skaar lab, and with his help and constant feedback I gained a deeper understanding of bacterial pathogenesis and osteomyelitis.
As for Nashville, I really loved it. From the moment you step into the city you are welcomed by live music and acoustic songs. There are always places to visit, and together with my VISRA friends we have been to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Ryman auditorium for some live music, a Nashville’s Predators ice hockey game, and we even visited the Parthenon (they have a full-scale replica of the one in Athens!).
Overall, I highly recommend this program. You will not only be able to gain new insights and exchange ideas with researchers from different cultural and geographical backgrounds, but you will also get to know a lovely city with wonderful people. If you enjoy research and you plan on pursuing graduate studies, then this program is definitely for you!