Dr. Joseph Pitula | University of Maryland Eastern Shore Marketing Retarget Pixel

Dr. Joseph Pitula

  • PitulaJ

    Professor, Parasitology & Molecular Biology, Department of Natural Science
    University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES)

    Phone: (410)621-2980/(410) 651-6666 | Email: jspitula@umes.edu | Fax (410) 651-7739

    Curriculum Vitae

    Director of Research, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, 2020-Present

    Project Director, UMES NSF Bridge to Doctorate Program, 2018-Present

    Director of UMES Unit, National Park Service North Atlantic Coast Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit, 2008-Present

    Graduate Program Campus DirectorEMST AOS Committee,  UMES (MEES), 2012-2020


    New York State University, Buffalo (2001)
    PhD, Microbiology
    New York State University, Buffalo
    Rutgers State University, New Jersey (1989)
    B.S., Biology


    1. Detection and blue crab infectivity of  ‘free-living’ Hematodinium perezi
    2. Microbial ecology of the Maryland Coastal Bays and Delmarva Peninsula
    3. Metabolism in two protist parasites: Perkinsus marinus and Leishmania tarentolae


    1. A Dual Omics Approach to Evaluate Transcriptional and Metabolic Responses During Lipid Deprivation in an Oyster Parasite, Perkinsus marinus. OMICS: J Int Biol.. 25. DOI. org/10.1089/omi.2020.0172
    2. Klick SA, Pitula JS, Bryant RB, Hashem FM, Allen AL, and May EB. (2020) Seasonal and Temporal Factors Leading to Urea-N Accumulation in Surface Waters of Agricultural Drainage Ditches. J. Env. Qual. 50: 185-197
    3. Lycett KA, Shields JD, Chung, JS, and Pitula, JS. (2020) Population Structure of Blue Crabs (Callinectes sapidus) in the Maryland Coastal Bays. J Shellfish Res. 39: 699-713
    4. Omagamre EW, Ojo F, Zebelo SA, and Pitula JS. (2020) Influence of Perfluorobutanoic Acid (PFBA) on the Developmental Cycle and Damage Potential of the Beet Armyworm Spodoptera exigua (Hübner) (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Noctuidae).Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 79:500-507.
    5. Chung JS, Huang X, Bachvaroff T, Lawrence A, Pitula JS, Jagus R. (2019) Infection by a reovirus changes transcript levels of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) family members and eIF4E-binding protein (4E-BP) in the blue crab, Callinectes sapidusJournal of Shellfish Research. 38: 23-34.
    6. Lewis NI, Wolny JL, Achenbach JC, Ellis L, Pitula JS, Rafuse C, Rosales DS, McCarron P. (2018) Identification, growth and toxicity assessment of Coolia Meunier (Dinophyceae) from Nova Scotia, Canada. Harmful Algae, 75: 45-56.
    7. Lycett KA, Chung JS, and Pitula JS. (2018) The relationship of blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) size class and molt stage to disease acquisition and intensity of Hematodinium perezi infections. PloSOne. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192237
    8. Lycett KA and Pitula JS. (2017) Disease ecology of Hematodinium perezi in a high salinity estuary: investigating seasonal trends in environmental detection. Dis Aquat Org, 124:169-179. doi: 10.3354/dao03112.
    9. Kang X, Xia M, Pitula JS., and Chigbu, P. (2017) Dynamics of water and salt exchange at Maryland Coastal Bays. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 189: 1-16.
    10. Chung JS, Pitula JS, Schott E, Alvarez JV, Maurer L, Lycett KA.(2015) Elevated water temperature increases the levels of reo-like virus and selected innate immunity genes in hemocytes and hepatopancreas of adult female blue crab, Callinectes sapidus. Fish Shellfish Immunol. 47:511-20. doi: 10.1016/j.fsi.2015.09.027.
    11. Hanif AW, Dyson WD, Bowers HA, Pitula JS, Messick GA, Jagus R, Schott EJ. (2013) Variation in spatial and temporal incidence of the crustacean pathogen Hematodinium perezi in environmental samples from Atlantic Coastal Bays. BMCAquat Biosyst. 9:11. doi: 10.1186/2046-9063-9-11.
    12. Pitula JS, Dyson WD, Bakht HB, Njoku I, and Chen F. (2012) Temporal distribution of genetically homogenous 'free-living' Hematodinium sp. in a Delmarva coastal ecosystem. Aquat Biosyst. 8:16; doi: 10.1186/2046-9063-8-16.
    13. Chung JS, Maurer L, Bratcher M, Pitula JS, and Ogburn MB. (2012) Cloning of aquaporin-1 of the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus: its expression during the larval development in hyposalinity. Aquat Biosyst. 8:21 doi:10.1186/2046-9063-8-21.


    Dr. Joe Pitula graduated from Rutgers University in 1989 with a BS in biology. He then worked 6 years as a lab technician in quality control at Nutrition International, a food testing laboratory. He went on to join the University at Buffalo, where he earned his Ph.D. in microbiology in 2001, focusing on pathogenic organisms. His field of emphasis was two RNA binding proteins from Trypanosoma brucei, the causative agent of African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), and how these proteins regulate the formation of ribosomes. He continued his work in RNA binding proteins when he went on to post-doctoral studies in the Department of Nutrition at the University of Wisconsin. There he studied the role of phosphorylation on the binding activity of Iron Regulatory Protein-1 (IRP-1). IRP-1 also has enzymatic function, and went on to demonstrate that phosphorylation has a dramatic impact in controlling substrate preference during its enzymatic function as the cytosolic aconitase. In 2004 he joined the Department of Natural Sciences at UMES, where he has continued his research interests in both protist parasites and enzymology

    Dr. Pitula's research interests focus on disease-causing protozoan parasites. His current projects are devoted to studying marine parasites of both blue crabs and oysters, two vital food resources essential to the economic health of the Chesapeake Bay region. These projects aim to 1) develop diagnostic methods to understand disease transmission 2) understand ecological considerations of parasite life cycles and communities, and 3) study the basic biochemical and genetic pathways functioning in both host and parasite. In addition, his laboratory studies Leishmania sp., a protozoan parasite of animals, using a lizard parasite species, Leishmania tarentolae, as a model for the human pathogen. In humans, Leishmaniasis is the second most deadly parasitic protozoan disease, second only to malaria. His research seeks to identify and characterize: 1) a Leishmania sp. enzyme that participates in generating sugars during parasitism of host immune cells and 2) pathways leading to the production of ribosomes in these organisms. Understanding biochemical and genetic mechanisms essential to parasite survival are theorized to assist in rational drug design approaches, so as to combat human disease. 

  • NOAA Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center
    University of Maryland Eastern Shore (Lead Institution)
    (410) 651-7870
    Award numbers: FY 2016 Award #NA16SEC4810007 
    Funding Agency: NOAA Educational Partnership Program with Minority-Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI)
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