Juliet Fuhrman

Juliet A. Fuhrman

Associate Professor
200 Boston Avenue, Room 4762A
Medford, MA


  • AB, cum laude, in Biochemistry, Princeton University, Princeton NJ, 1975
  • PhD in Biology, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, 1982
  • Post-doctoral research, Department of Tropical Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, 1982-1985


Immunology and Infectious Disease

Research Interests

Graduate Research Areas: Molecular Biology and Developmental Biology

Our laboratory studies the basic biology of parasitic roundworms in the hope of devising novel strategies for controlling infection and preventing disease. We focus in particular on filarial parasites, which are responsible for causing human elephantiasis and river blindness as well as dog heartworm. Filarial parasites currently infect more than 100 million people worldwide, most of whom live in developing nations.

We have a longstanding interest in chitin metabolism as a therapeutic target for parasitic nematodes. Chitin is a structural polysaccharide used by insects, fungi, and crustaceans, but chitin is not synthesized by vertebrates. Thus, the chitin synthase enzyme should be a suitable target for parasite-specific therapeutics. Our laboratory has characterized the genes and enzymes for chitin synthase as well as chitinase from the filarial parasites Brugia malayi, which causes human elephantiasis, and Dirofilaria immitis, which causes dog heartworm. Through a variety of molecular and biochemical methods, we have described the activities of these enzymes and their importance in the nematode life cycle. Current research focuses on the regulation of chitin synthesis during eggshell formation, and the use of chitin for somatic structures in larvae and adults. The extensive information available for the free-living nematode, C. elegans, has allowed us to use this model system to dissect developmental processes that are common to all roundworms.

Other work in our laboratory has examined the molecular basis of pathogenesis in lymphatic filariasis. We have demonstrated that certain stages produce nitric oxide, a potent mediator of vessel dilation and inflammation, suggesting that the parasite modulates the host tissue environment in specific ways that lead to disease.

Selected Publications and Presentations

(Undergraduate authors' names are underlined)

Ford L, Zhang J, Liu J, Hashmi S, Fuhrman JA, Oksov Y, and Lustigman S. 2009. Functional analysis of the cathepsin-like cysteine protease genes in adult Brugia malayi using RNA interference. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 3(2): e377. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000377

Fuhrman JA, and Piessens WF. 1985. Chitin synthesis and sheath morphogenesis in Brugia malayi microfilariae. Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 17:93-104.

Fuhrman JA, Urioste S, Hamill B, Spielman A, Piessens WF. 1987. Functional and antigenic maturation of Brugia malayi. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 36:70-74.

Fuhrman JA, and Piessens WF. 1989. A stage-specific calcium-binding protein from microfilariae of Brugia malayi. Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 35:249-258.

Piessens WF, Fuhrman JA, Vickery AC. 1989. Immunobiology of lymphatic filariasis. In Modern Parasite Biology: Cellular, Immunological, and Molecular Aspects, ed. DJ Wyler. WH Freeman and Co., San Francisco, pp. 289-311.

Fuhrman JA, and Piessens, WF. 1989. Filariasis. In Vaccination Strategies of Tropical Diseases, ed. FY Liew. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp. 219-238.

Kurniawan L, Basundari E, Fuhrman JA, Turner H, Purtoma H, and Piessens WF. 1990. Differential recognition of microfilarial antigens by sera from immigrants into an area endemic for brugian filariasis. Parasite Immunol. 12:213-228.

Fuhrman JA. 1990. Biochemistry of microfilarial exsheathment (Minireview). Exp. Parasitol. 70: 363-366.

Fuhrman JA. 1990. Comment: Calcium binding proteins in schistosomes. Parasitology Today 6: 172.

Fuhrman JA, Lane WS, Smith RF, Piessens WF, and Perler FB. 1992. Transmission-blocking antibodies recognize microfilarial chitinase in Brugian lympathic filariasis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA) 89:1548-1552.

Fuhrman JA. 1995. Filiarial chitinases. Parasitology Today: 11:259-261. (Review article).

Fuhrman JA, Lee J, and Dalamagas D. 1995. Structure and function of a family of chitinase isozymes from Brugian microfilariae. Experimental Parasitology: 80: 672-680.

Fuhrman JA. 1995. "Filariasis: The role of chitinase in larval development and transmission." In Molecular Approaches to Parasitology. J. Boothroyd and R. Komuniecki, eds., New York, Wiley-Liss, Inc., 77-87.

Dissanayake S, Perler FB, Xu M, Southworth MW, Yee CK, Wang S, Dreyer G, Watawana L, Kurniawan L, Fuhrman JA, and Piessens WF. 1995. Differential recognition of microfilarial chitinase, a transmission-blocking antigen, by sera from patients with Brugian and Bancroftian filariasis. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 53: 289-294.

Venegas A, Goldstein JC, Beauregard K, Oles A, Abdulhayoglu N, and Fuhrman JA. 1996.
Expression of recombinant microfilarial chitinase and analysis of domain function. Mol. Biochem. Parasitol. 78: 149-159.

Southworth MW, Fuhrman JA, Robbins PW, Beauregard K, and FB Perler. 1996. Gene cloning and production of active recombinant Brugia malayi microfilarial chitinase. Gene, 177: 55-58.

Arnold K, Venegas A, Houseweart C and Fuhrman JA. 1996. Discrete transcripts encode multiple chitinase isoforms in Brugian microfilariae. Mol. Biochem. Parasitol., 80: 149-150.

Pfarr KM and Fuhrman JA. 2000. Brugia malayi: Localization of nitric oxide synthase in a lymphatic filariid. Exp. Parasitol.,
94: 92-98.

Harris M, Lai K, Arnold K, Martinez H, Specht C, and Fuhrman JA. 2000. Chitin synthase in the filarial parasite, Brugia malayi. Mol. Biochem. Parasitol., 11:351-362.

Pfarr KM, Qazi S, and Fuhrman JA. 2001. Nitric oxide synthase in filariae: demonstration of nitric oxide production by embryos in Brugia malayi and Acanthocheilonema viteae. Exp.Parasitol., 97: 205-214.

Harris MT and Fuhrman JA. 2002. Structure and expression of chitin synthase in the parasitic nematode Dirofilaria immitis. Mol. and Biochem. Parasitol. 122: 231-234.

Panilaitis B, Johri A, Blank W, Kaplan D, and Fuhrman JA. 2002. Adjuvant activity of emulsan, a secreted lipopolysaccharide from Acinetobacter calcoaceticus. Clin. Diag Lab. Immunol. 9: 1240-1247.

Mason M, Zhang Y, Bergenstal J, Carlow C, and Fuhrman JA. 2005. Detection of chitinous structures in the nematode Brugia malayi: Evaluation of a bacterial chitin binding probe. Ms. in preparation.

Mason M, and Fuhrman, JA. 2005. Secretion of the extracellular domain of Brugia malayi chitin synthase in High Five cells using a modified pIEx-5 vector. Ms. in preparation.