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Salavati Lab


The three related species of trypanosomatids, Trypanosoma brucei, Trypanosoma cruzi, and Leishmania major, cause serious human and animal diseases, with a very high incidence and mortality rate if left untreated. There are no vaccines for these pathogens, the drugs are toxic with limited effectiveness, and drug resistance is emerging. The availability of the genome sequences of these organisms since 2005 has dramatically expanded our knowledge of their biology; however, a major obstacle has since been acknowledged: the majority of trypanosomatid genes are not found in any other organism, making it almost impossible to use homology-based methods for inferring their functions from their sequences.

Our lab is focused on the development of novel computational and experimental methods for functional and structural characterization of trypanosomatid genomes. We are also involved in the development of high-throughput methods for identification of novel chemical inhibitors of essential trypanosomatid proteins, particularly the editing complex of T. brucei. Functional characterization of some of the key trypanosomatid proteins that are involved in RNA editing is also among the major research topics of our lab.

Systems analysis of trypanosomatid genomes

Our lab is focused on the development of novel computational and experimental methods for the functional and structural characterization of trypanosomatid genomes. We use systems biology of trypanosomatid pathogens to identify key genes / pathways and determine their function.

Dynamics and developmental regulation of the editosome function in trypanosomatids

Another major research topic in our lab is the functional characterization of key trypanosomatid proteins that are involved in post-transcriptional gene regulation.

Targeting the essential pathways in trypanosomatids for drug discovery

We are involved in the development of high-throughput methods for the identification of novel chemical inhibitors of essential trypanosomatid proteins. We have identified potential inhibitors for RNA editing that kill T. brucei in vitro with a proposed mechanism of inhibition.


– – – – – – 2020 – – – – – –

Aphasizheva I., Alfonzo J., Carnes J., Cestari I., Goringer U., Stephen H., Lukes J., Madison-Antenuccii S., Maslov D., McDermott S., Ochsenreiter T., Read L., Salavati R., Schnaufer A., Schneider A., Simpson L., Stuart K., Yurchenko V., Zhou Z., Zikova A., Zhang L., Ziimmer S.,   Aphasizhev R.  (2020). Lexis and Grammar of Mitochondrial RNA Processing in Trypanosomes. Trends in Parasitology Apr 36(4): 337-355.

Mehta V., Moshiri H., Srikanth A., Kala S., Lukeš J.,  Salavati R.  (2020). Sulfonated inhibitors of the RNA editing ligases validate the essential role of the MRP1/2 proteins in kinetoplastid RNA editing. RNA Jul 26(7): 827-835.

– – – – – – 2019 – – – – – –

Nikpour N.,  Salavati R.  (2019). The RNA binding activity of the first identified trypanosome protein with Z-DNA-binding domains. Sci Rep. Apr 11;9(1):5904.

– – – – – – 2018 – – – – – –

Salavati R.,  Gazestani VH.  (2018). Gene Function Discovery for Kinetoplastid Pathogens. Trends Parasitol. 2018;35: 8-12.

Gazestani VH., Hampton M., Shaw AK., Salavati R., Zimmer SL. (2018). Tail characteristics of Trypanosoma brucei mitochondrial transcripts are developmentally altered in a transcript-specific manner. Int J Parasitol. 2018 Feb;48: 179-189.

– – – – – – 2017 – – – – – –

Gazestani VH., Yip CW., Nikpour N., Berghuis N., Salavati R. (2017). TrypsNetDB: an integrated framework for the functional characterization of trypanosomatid proteins. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 

Kala S., Mehta V., Yip CW., Moshiri H., Najafabadi HS., Ma R., Nikpour N., Zimmer SL.,  Salavati R. (2017). The interaction of a Trypanosoma brucei KH-domain protein with a ribonuclease is implicated in ribosome processing. Mol Bioiochem Parasitol. 2017. 211:94-103.

– – – – – – 2016 – – – – – –

Gazestani VH., Hampton M., Abrahante JE.,  Salavati R.*, Zimmer SL*. (2016). circTAIL-seq, a targeted method for deep analysis of RNA 3' tails, reveals transcript-specific differences by multiple metrics. RNA  2016. *(Co-corresponding authors).

Shaneh As., Purisima E.O.,  Salavati R., Sulea T. (2016). Structural studies of Trypanosoma brucei RNA editing ligases and their binding partner proteinss. Biochemistry. 2016. Mar 31 [epub ahead of print].

Gazestani VH, Nikpour N., Mehta V., Najafabadi H.S., Moshiri H, Jardim A., Salavati R. (2016). A Protein Complex Map of Trypanosoma brucei. PLos Negl. Trop. Dis. 2016. Mar 18; 10(3):e0004533.

– – – – – – 2015 – – – – – –

Gazestani VH., Salavati R. (2015). Deciphering RNA Regulatory Elements Involved in the Developmental and Environmental Gene Regulation of Trypanosoma brucei. PLoS One.  2015.

Bhaskar J., Gazestani VH., Yip CW., Salavati R. (2015). The DRBD13 RNA binding protein is involved in the insect-stage differentiation process of Trypanosoma brucei. FEBS Letters. . 589(15): 1966-74. 2015.

Mehta V., Sen R., Moshiri H., Salavati R. (2015). Mutational Analysis of Trypanosoma brucei RNA Editing Ligase Reveals Regions Critical for Interaction with KREPA2. PLoS One 10(3): e0120844. 2015.

– – – – – – 2014 – – – – – –

Moshiri H., Mehta V.,  Salavati R. (2014). RNA catalyst as a reporter for screening drugs against RNA editing in trypanosomes. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE.  2014.

Moshiri H., Mehta V., Yipp CW., Salavati R. (2014). Pilot-Scale Compound Screening against RNA Editing Identifies Trypanocidal Agents. Journal of biomolecular screening. 2014.

Gazestani VH., Lu Z.,  Salavati R. (2014). Deciphering RNA regulatory elements in trypanosomatids: one piece at a time or genome-wide? Trends Parasitol.  2014; 30: 234-240.

– – – – – – 2013 – – – – – –

Najafabadi HS., Lu Z., Macpherson C., Mehta V., Adoue V., Pastinen T., Salavati R. (2013). Global identification of conserved post-transcriptional regulatory programs in trypanosomatids. Nucleic Acids Res. 2013; 41: 8591-8600.

– – – – – – 2012 – – – – – –

Kala S., Moshiri H., Mehta V., Yip CW., Salavati R. (2012). The Oligonucleotide Binding (OB)-Fold Domain of KREPA4 Is Essential for Stable Incorporation into Editosomes. PLoS One. 2012; doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046864.

Goodarzi H., Najafabadi HS., Oikonomou P., Greco TM., Fish L.,  Salavati R., Cristea IM., Tavazoie S. (2012). Systematic discovery of structural elements governing stability of mammalian messenger RNAs. Nature. 2012; doi: 10.1038/nature11013.

Salavati R., Moshiri H., Kala S., Najafabadi HS. (2012). Inhibitors of RNA editing as potential chemotherapeutics against trypanosomatid pathogens. Int J Parasitol Drugs Drug Resist. 2012; 2:36-46.

– – – – – – 2011 – – – – – –

Moshiri H., Acoca S., Kala S., Najafabadi HS., Hogues H., Purisima E.,  Salavati R. (2011). Naphthalene-based RNA editing inhibitor blocks RNA editing activities and editosome assembly in Trypanosoma brucei. J Biol Chem. 2011; 286(16):14178-89.

– – – – – – 2010 – – – – – –

Najafabadi HS., Salavati R. (2010). Functional genome annotation by combined analysis across microarray studies of Trypanosoma brucei. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2010; 4(8):e810.

Kala S., Salavati R. (2010). OB-fold domain of KREPA4 mediates high affinity interaction with guide RNA and also possesses annealing activity. RNA. 2010; 16(10):1951-1967.

Moshiri H., Salavati R. (2010). A fluorescence-based reporter substrate for monitoring RNA editing in trypanosomatid pathogens. Nucleic Acids Res.  2010; 38(13):e138.

Salavati R., Najafabadi HS. (2010). Sequence-based functional annotation: what if most of the genes are unique to a genome? Trends Parasitol.  2010; 26(5):225-229.

– – – – – – 2009 – – – – – –

Najafabadi HS., Goodarzi H., Salavati R. (2009). Universal function-specificity of codon usage. Nucleic Acids Res. 2009; 37(21):7014-7023.

Mao Y., Najafabadi HS., Salavati R. (2009). Genome-wide computational identification of functional RNA elements in Trypanosoma brucei. BMC Genomics. 2009; 10(1):355.

Shaneh A., Salavati R. (2009). Kinetoplastid RNA editing ligases 1 and 2 exhibit different electrostatic properties. J Mol Model. 2009 May 27.

– – – – – – 2008 – – – – – –

Najafabadi HS., Salavati R. (2008). Sequence-based prediction of protein-protein interactions by means of codon usage. Genome Biol. 2008; 9(5):R87. Epub 2008 May 23.

– – – – – – 2006 – – – – – –

Mian IS., Worthey EA., Salavati R. (2006). Taking U out, with two nucleases? BMC Bioinformatics. 2006; Jun 16;7:305.

Panigrahi AK., Ernst NL., Domingo GJ., Fleck M., Salavati R., Stuart KD. (2006). Compositionally and functionally distinct editosomes in Trypanosoma brucei.RNA.  2006 Jun; 12(6):1038-49. Epub 2006 Apr 12.

Salavati R., Ernst NL., O'Rear J., Gilliam T., Tarun S Jr., Stuart KD. (2006). KREPA4, an RNA binding protein essential for editosome integrity and survival of Trypanosoma brucei.RNA.  2006 May; 12(5):819-31. Epub 2006 Apr 6.

Panigrahi AK., Ernst NL., Domingo GJ., Fleck M., Salavati R., Stuart KD. (2006). Compositionally and functionally distinct editosomes in Trypanosoma brucei.RNA.  2006 Jun; 12(6):1038-49. Epub 2006 Apr 12.

– – – – – – 2004 – – – – – –

Deng J., Schnaufer A.,  Salavati R., Stuart KD., Hol WG. (2004). High resolution crystal structure of a key editosome enzyme from Trypanosoma brucei: RNA editing ligase 1. J Mol Biol. 2004 Oct 22; 343(3):601-13.

– – – – – – 2003 – – – – – –

Worthey EA., Schnaufer A., Mian IS., Stuart K., Salavati R. (2003). Comparative analysis of editosome proteins in trypanosomatids. J Nucleic Acids Res. 2003 May; 12(5): 819-31.

Schnaufer A., Ernst NL., Palazzo SS., O'Rear J., Salavati R., Stuart K. (2003). Separate insertion and deletion subcomplexes of the Trypanosoma brucei RNA editing complex. Mol Cell. 2003 Aug; 12(2): 307-19.

Ernst NL., Panicucci B., Igo RP Jr., Panigrahi AK., Salavati R., Stuart K. (2003). TbMP57 is a 3' terminal uridylyl transferase (TUTase) of the Trypanosoma brucei editosome. Mol Cell. 2003 Jun; 11(6):1525-36.

Worthey EA., Martinez-Calvillo S., Schnaufer A., Aggarwal G., Cawthra J., Fazelinia G., Fong C., Fu G., Hassebrock M., Hixson G., Ivens AC., Kiser P., Marsolini F., Rickel E.,  Salavati R., Sisk E., Sunkin SM., Stuart KD., Myler PJ. (2003). Leishmania major chromosome 3 contains two long convergent polycistronic gene clusters separated by a tRNA gene. Nucleic Acids Res. 2003 Jul 15;31(14):4201-10.

Wang B., Ernst NL., Palazzo SS., Panigrahi AK., Salavati R., Stuart K. (2003). TbMP44 is essential for RNA editing and structural integrity of the editosome in Trypanosoma brucei. Eukaryot Cell.  2003 Jun;2(3):578-87.

Domingo GJ., Palazzo SS., Wang B., Pannicucci B., Salavati R., Stuart KD. (2003). Dyskinetoplastic Trypanosoma brucei contains functional editing complexes. Eukaryot Cell.  2003 Jun;2(3): 569-77.

Palazzo SS., Panigrahi AK., Igo RP., Salavati R., Stuart KD. (2003). Kinetoplastid RNA editing ligases: complex association, characterization, and substrate requirements. Mol Biochem Parasitol.  2003 Apr 3; 127(2): 161-7.

Panigrahi AK., Schnaufer A., Ernst NL., Wang B., Carmean N., Salavati R., Stuart KD. (2003). Identification of novel components of Trypanosoma brucei editosomes.RNA.  2003 Apr; 9(4): 484-92.

– – – – – – 2002 – – – – – –

Igo RP Jr., Weston DS., Ernst NL., Panigrahi AK., Salavati R., Stuart K. (2002). Role of uridylate-specific exoribonuclease activity in Trypanosoma brucei RNA editing. J Eukaryot Cell.  2002 Feb; 1(1): 112-8.

Salavati R., Panigrahi AK., Morach BA., Palazzo SS., Igo RP., Stuart KD. (2002). Endoribonuclease activities of Trypanosoma brucei mitochondria. Mol Biochem Parasitol.  2002 Mar; 120(1): 23-31.

Drozdz M., Palazzo SS.,  Salavati R., O'Rear J., Clayton C., Stuart KD. (2002). TbMP81 is required for RNA editing in Trypanosoma bruceis. EMBO J.  2002 Apr 2;21(7):1791-9.

Wang B.,  Salavati R., Heidmann S., Stuart KD. (2002). A hammerhead ribozyme substrate and reporter for in vitro kinetoplastid RNA editing. RNA.  2002 Apr;8(4):548-54.


Reza Salavati
Principal Investigator

Homa Zamani
Ph.D. Student

Moti Sobat
Ph.D. Student

Amin Azimi
Ph.D. Student

Mojtaba Rostamighadi
Ph.D. Student

Daniel Moses
MSc Student

Poorya Mirzavand
MSc Student

Arezou Kamelshahroudi
Visiting Graduate Research Trainee



Vaibhav Mehta
- Postdoctoral Researcher

Akshaya Srikanth
- Research Assistant

Nisha Nisha Ramamurthy
- MSc Student

Saba Mohammaei
- MSc Applied Bioitechnology Student

Akshaya Srikanth
- MSc Applied Biotechnology Student

Ivan Lam
- MSc Applied Biotechnology Student

Ruoyu (Allen) Ma
- MSc Student

Najmeh Nikpour
- PhD Student

Vahid Hajihoseini Gazestani
- PhD Student

Hanrong (George) Wu
- MSc Student

Chun Wai Yip
- Research Assistant

Alireza Shaneh
- PhD Student

Zhiquan (Lucy) Lu
- MSc Student

Bhaskar Anand Jha
- Post-doctorate Fellow

Keshika Prematilake
- MSc Applied Biotechnology Student

Ivy Mak
- Undergraduate Student

Fiona-Vanessa Allum-Bordage
- MSc Applied Biotechnology Student

Nadine Lombardo-Han
- Undergraduate Student

Houtan Moshiri
- PhD Student

Smriti Kala
- PhD Student

Chad Macpherson
- Research Assistant

Yuan Mao
- Research Assistant

Hamed Shateri Najafabadi
- PhD Student

Rajashree Sen
- MSc Student

Mei Nathan
- Undergraduate Student

Kourosh Ghaeli
- Undergraduate Student

Maraim Richer
- Undergraduate Student

Mathew Kramar
- Undergraduate Student

Andrew Papadopoli
- Undergraduate Student

Gaetano Cianciarelli
- MSc Applied Biotechnology Student

Erica Radojewski
- MSc Applied Biotechnology Student

Xinyue (Sharon) Xu
- Undergraduate Student

Adam Schwendt
- Research Assistant

Linhua Zhang
- Research Assistant


A database of experimentally verified and predicted protein interactions for trypanosomatid parasites.

COSMOS is a package for the identification of conserved structural RNA motifs.

HyperMotif is a package for hypergeometric-based identification of group-specific sequence motifs.

HyperPolymorphism is a package for hypergeometric-based analysis of polymorphisms in nucleotide sequences.

ICodPack is a package for information-based analysis of codon usage.

DICE is a universal approach for discovering co-occurring features in biological networks across all data types.


Positions are available for highly motivated post-doctoral fellows and students who are interested in a master's and doctoral thesis to study molecular parasitology in a multidisciplinary environment.

Please fill out the application form to apply to the lab. If there is an position available and your application is considered a good fit for the lab, then we will contact you about arranging an interview and a chance to meet the other members of the lab. If you do not hear from us before any application deadlines it means that there was not a position in the lab that was suitable for you.

Please be sure to specify your area of interest in the application form. To learn more, please have a look at our current research projects and publications.

Please note that we are deeply committed to enacting plans at Salavati Lab to help reduce systemic bias problems, prevent discrimination, and improve inclusivity. As such, EDI will be a component of the selection process when we are considering applicants to the lab.

Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

EDI Statement

At the Salavati Lab, we strive to make scientific academia an equitable, diverse, and inclusive space. If you have any questions or sugestions on how we can improve, do not hesistate to share your thoughts with us.

Land Acknowledgement

Located on lands where Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations have met, McGill honours and respects these nations as the traditional stewards of the lands we use.

Mission Statement

Beyond our mission towards research and training, EDI carries a special significance in the context of Global Infectious Diseases (GID) that affect large populations globally and cause numerous deaths.

GID affects marginalized and racialized individuals and communities with limited access to prevention and disease control methods with heightened social and health consequences. As a group, we strive to mitigate these global health disparities.


We firmly believe that the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion are fundamental to a healthy work environment and promote individual well-being.

Diverse environments bring together unique perspectives that promote creativity, stimulating discussions, and open-mindedness.

Scientific progress thrives when individuals of different backgrounds are brought together to take on difficult questions.


Salavati Lab is aware that discrimination can be based on a number of factors including race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and many more.

We recognize that disparities in opportunities (such as, but not limited to: socioeconomic status, familial connections, familial responsibilities, access to resources) can result in differences that are not related to one’s potential to be a valued member of the lab.

Thus, we are committed to understanding and removing such biases within the lab. With this in mind, our application form is designed with the intention of allowing for fairer candidate selection process.

We acknowledge that this is always a work in progress and we welcome further discussions for how we can improve. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us.


Learn more about McGill University's commitments to equity, diversity, and inclusion.


Institute of Parasitology
Macdonald Campus, McGill University, Room P-211
21,111 Lakeshore Road, Ste Anne de Bellevue Québec, H9X 3V9, Canada


Reza Salavati, Ph.D.

Professor, Institute Director, McGill University

Office: (514) 398-7721