Priscila M Da Silva Castanha

  • Assistant Professor
  • Faculty in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology

Dr. Castanha is a public health scientist with a strong interdisciplinary background in virology, human immunology, and epidemiology of viral diseases of global relevance. Dr. Castanha completed her bachelor’s degree in biology from the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Brazil, in 2008. She then earned her MPH (2011) and PhD (2016) degrees at Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), Brazil, where she studied mosquito-borne viral infections. As a Ph.D. candidate, Dr. Castanha was awarded two scholarships (Global Infectious Diseases Research Training, Fogarty, University of Pittsburgh; and Inter-University Exchange Doctoral Program, Brazilian federal government) to spend a two-year period (2013-2015) at the Center for Vaccine Research, University of Pittsburgh (CVR/ PITT) as a Visiting Researcher. Her graduate thesis focused on dengue epidemiology and immunopathogenesis in pregnant and children at early ages.

Dr. Castanha then did a joint post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Pernambuco and FIOCRUZ. Her work focused on understanding inter-individual differences in immune response driving transmission dynamics and contributing to severe disease outcome by dengue and Zika viruses. During her time at University of Pernambuco and FIOCRUZ, Dr. Castanha was a member of the outbreak response team to the Zika and microcephaly pandemic.

Dr. Castanha returned to the University of Pittsburgh in 2018 as a post-doctoral associate in the Department of Infectious Disease and Microbiology (IDM) in the School of Public Health (SPH). Under the joint mentorship of Professors Simon Barratt-Boyes, Ernesto Marques and Don Burke, Dr. Castanha work focused on (1) the use of innovative ex vivo human model systems to delve into virus-host interactions driving the immunopathogenesis of mosquito-borne viral infections; and (2) cutting-edge ‘antigenically agnostic’ libraries of small molecules to discover biomarker correlates of viral neutralization. She also worked in multiple collaborative projects in the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory (RBL) studying virulence factors contributing to severe disease by emerging viral pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2 and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N1).

Dr. Castanha joined the faculty team at IDM in 2023 as an Assistant Professor. Her primary teaching responsibilities are within IDM and the Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) program. In addition to laboratory-based research in the US, Dr. Castanha kept her collaborative ties with Brazilian researchers and institutions as an affiliated junior faculty member at University of Pernambuco.

Dr. Castanha's broad research interests include

  1. virus-host-vector interactions at the cutaneous interface
  2. antibody-mediated pathogenesis and immune interactions between arboviruses
  3. epidemiology and transmission dynamics of emerging and re-emerging viruses
  4. ex vivo human model systems

2016 | Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil | PhD
2011 | Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil | MSc
2008 | Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil | BSc


PUBHLT 0110 | Genes, Cells, and Populations: Introduction to Public Health Biology | Instructor

PUBHLT 0140 | First-Year Public Health Seminar | Primary Instructor

PUBHLT 0462 | Historic and Contemporary Societal Impacts of Infectious Diseases | Lecturer

IDM 2003 | Host Response to Infection | Instructor

IDM 2035 | Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases: Research and Practice | Instructor

IDM 3440 | Vaccines and Immunity | Lecturer

EPIDEM 2160 | Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases | Lecturer

Selected Publications

Full list of publications through My NCBI

ORCID: 0000-0002-1220-5308

Google Scholar

Castanha PMS, Tuttle DJ, Kitsios GD, Jacobs JL, Braga-Neto U, Duespohl M, Rathod S, Marti MM, Wheeler S, Naqvi A, Staines B, Mellors J, Morris A, McVerry BJ, Shah F, Schaefer C, Macatangay BJC, Methe B, Fernandez CA, Barratt-Boyes SM, Burke D, Marques ETA. Contribution of Coronavirus-Specific Immunoglobulin G Responses to Complement Overactivation in Patients with Severe Coronavirus Disease 2019. J Infect Dis. 2022 Sep 13;226(5):766-777. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiac091. PMID: 35267024; PMCID: PMC8992249.

Jacques IJAA, Katz L, Sena MA, Guimarães ABG, Silva YL, Albuquerque GDM, Pereira RO, de Albuquerque CAMC, Silva MAL, Oliveira PAS, Albuquerque MFPM, Cordeiro MT, Marques ETA Jr, França RFO, Martelli CMT, Castanha PMS, Braga C. High Incidence of Zika or Chikungunya Infection among Pregnant Women Hospitalized Due to Obstetrical Complications in Northeastern Brazil-Implications for Laboratory Screening in Arbovirus Endemic Area. Viruses. 2021 Apr 23;13(5):744. doi: 10.3390/v13050744. PMID: 33922819; PMCID: PMC8145990.

Castanha PMS, Erdos G, Watkins SC, Falo LD Jr, Marques ETA, Barratt-Boyes SM. Reciprocal immune enhancement of dengue and Zika virus infection in human skin. JCI Insight. 2020 Feb 13;5(3):e133653. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.133653. PMID: 31910161; PMCID: PMC7098780.

Castanha PMS, Marques ETA. Vaccine development during global epidemics: the Zika experience. Lancet Infect Dis. 2020 Sep;20(9):998-999. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30360-1. Epub 2020 May 6. PMID: 32618278; PMCID: PMC7202844.

Castanha PMS, Marques ETA. A Glimmer of Hope: Recent Updates and Future Challenges in Zika Vaccine Development. Viruses. 2020 Nov 30;12(12):1371. doi: 10.3390/v12121371. PMID: 33266129; PMCID: PMC7761420.

Castanha PMS, Souza WV, Braga C, Araújo TVB, Ximenes RAA, Albuquerque MFPM, Montarroyos UR, Miranda-Filho DB, Cordeiro MT, Dhalia R, Marques ETA Jr, Rodrigues LC, Martelli CMT; Microcephaly Epidemic Research Group. Perinatal analyses of Zika- and dengue virus-specific neutralizing antibodies: A microcephaly case-control study in an area of high dengue endemicity in Brazil. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2019 Mar 11;13(3):e0007246. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0007246. PMID: 30856223; PMCID: PMC6428350.

Castanha PMS, Montarroyos UR, Silveira SMM, Albuquerque GDM, Mello MJG, Lopes KGS, Cordeiro MT, Marques ETA, Martelli CMT, Braga C. Incidence and risk factors for Dengue virus (DENV) infection in the first 2 years of life in a Brazilian prospective birth cohort. Epidemiol Infect. 2017 Oct;145(14):2971-2979. doi: 10.1017/S095026881700214X. Epub 2017 Sep 18. PMID: 28918772; PMCID: PMC9152744.