Dr. Chrysoula Kitsou

Chrysoula Kitsou, Assistant Research Professor

Transgenic models of infectious diseases; Integration of Artificial Reproductive Technologies with CRISPR-based genome editing to better understand host-pathogen interaction, host responses and immunity, anti-tick vaccines.


2020 - current, Assistant Research Professor, Genome Editing, Artificial Reproductive Technologies and Infectious Diseases, University of Maryland, College Park.

2018-2020: Continued Postdoctoral, Genome Editing and Infectious Diseases, University of Maryland, College Park.

2017, Continued Postdoctoral Training: Postgraduate Studies Program in Genetics and IVF Reproduction, Athens Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece.

2016: Postdoctoral., Reproduction, Genetics and IVF, University of Ioannina Medical School, Greece.

2015: Ph.D., Genetics and Reproduction, University of Ioannina Medical School, Greece.

2008: C.B., Biology, University of Ioannina, Greece. 

Professional Experiences

2020  present: Assistant Research Professor, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland.

2015  2020: Postdoctoral Research Associate and Post-Graduate Studies Program, University of Maryland, College Park, USA and Ioannina Medical School and Athens Medical School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece.

Research Interests

My current research interest involves use of cutting-edge genetic, transgenic and artificial reproductive technology tools to better understand infectious diseases of zoonotic origin, biology of arthropod vectors, pathogenic organisms and infectious diseases that inflict in humans and animals.  My present research studies focuses on deciphering the mechanisms of host immunity and immune evasion by the pathogens of Lyme disease.  Being trained in the field of molecular biology studying rodent genetics, artificial reproductive technologies, transgenics and embryogenesis, I would like to use my basic skills to address novel questions in infectious diseases, particularly ones that are transmitted by arthropod vectors like ticks.  My graduate and postdoctoral research efforts at the University of Ioannina Medical School were to study various aspects of murine reproduction and transgenesis, and I became familiar with many critical tools of assisted reproductive technologies, such as pronuclear microinjection, manipulation and imaging of germ cells, which will be very useful for execution of my proposed research studies involving manipulation of ticks and B. burgdorferi cells.  During my graduate studies, I have demonstrated the occurrence of integration of exogenous retroelements in the sperm genome, including transfer of retroelements into the mouse oocyte leading to genetic alterations in mouse embryos.  I also studied the efficacy of various drugs or pharmacological inhibitors in ovarian physiology and pathological conditions, as highlighted in the list of publications noted in the subsequent section.  In early 2018, I came to the United States and joined the laboratory of Dr. Utpal Pal at the University of Maryland, College Park to study biology and pathogenesis of a prevalent vector-borne infection called Lyme disease.  I have contributed to ongoing studies to understand how the pathogens of Lyme disease persist in the mammalian hosts and in tick vectors for long term and evade the immunity.  In the same year, I was awarded a grant and a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship called “The Deborah and Mark Blackman Postdoctoral Fellowship in Borrelia persistence and evasion”, where I am leading my independent research training and interdisciplinary studies to better understand the intriguing persistence mechanism of Lyme disease pathogens using tools of vector biology and clinical sciences that involved collaboration with clinicians at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH.  The grant and the training opportunity, which is provided through Global Lyme Alliance will provided me a wonderful opportunity to extend our ongoing study and to explore whether persistent infection in human subjects suspected of chronic Lyme disease is characterized by the presence of B. burgdorferi.  As a future extension of our work, I am actively contributing in developing new animal model via Ca9/CRISPR system, which will allow us to address novel questions about host-pathogen interaction and immunity involving tick bite and B. burgdorferi infection.  Locally available senior experts, rich research infrastructure and a diverse group of important collaborators helps to facilitate the multidimensional scholarly studies that are essential for the success of our research efforts towards development of novel interventions against major tick-borne infections.

Representative Publications

1. Bista S, Singh P, Bernard Q, Yang X, Hart T, Lin Y, Kitsou C, Rana VS,  Zhang F, Linhardt RJ, Zhang K, Akins DR, Hritzo L, Kim Y, Grab DJ, Dumler JS and Pal U.  A novel laminin-binding protein mediates microbial-endothelial cell interactions and facilitates dissemination of Lyme disease pathogens. J Infect Dis, 221(9):1438-1447.  2020.

2. Kitsou C, Leandros Lazaros, Alexandra Papoudou-Bai, Prodromos Sakaloglou, Eirini Mastora, Theodoros Lykovardakis, Katerina Giaka, Georgios Vartholomatos, Ioanna Bouba, Sofia Markoula, Anna Batistatou and Ioannins Georgiou. Reverse Transcriptase Affects Gametogenesis and Preimplantation Development in Mouse. In Vivo (In press), 2020.

3. Bernard Q, Thakur M, Smith AA, Kitsou C, Yang X and Pal U.  Borrelia burgdorferi protein interactions critical for microbial persistence in mammals. Cellular Microbiol e12885. doi: 10.1111/cmi.12885, 2019.

4.  Kitsou C and Pal U.  Ixodes immune responses against Lyme disease pathogens.  Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol 8: 176, doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2018.00176, 2018.

5. L Lazaros*, Kitsou C*, (*Equal contributions), C Kostoulas, S Bellou, E Hatzi, P Ladias, T Stefos, S Markoula, V Galani, G Vartholomatos, T Tzavaras, I Georgiou.  Retrotransposon expression and incorporation of cloned human and mouse retroelements in human spermatozoa.  Fertil Steril. 107(3):821-830. 2017.

6. Kitsou C, Lazaros L, Bellou S, Vartholomatos G, Sakaloglou P, Hatzi E, Markoula S, Zikopoulos K, Tzavaras T, Georgiou I.  Exogenous retroelement integration in sperm and embryos affects preimplantation development. Reproduction; 152(3):185-93. 2016.

7. Kitsou C, Kosmas I, Lazaros L, Tzallas C, Tinelli A, Mynbaev O, Prapas N, Prapas I, Dalkalitsis A, Georgiou I.  The combination of Everolimus with Verapamil reduces ovarian weight and vascular permeability on ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome: a preclinical experimental randomized controlled study.  Gynecol Endocrinol:1-5, 2016.

8. Lazaros L, Fotaki A, Pamporaki C, Hatzi E, Kitsou C, Zikopoulos A, Virgiliou C, Kosmas I, Bouba I, Stefos T, Theodoridis G, Georgiou I. The ovarian response to standard gonadotropin stimulation is influenced by AMHRII genotypes. Gynecol Endocrinol :1-5. 2016.