NellyEl SakkaryPost-doctoral fellow, UCSD

Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Since 2009 my research interests have centered on the identification of aspects of schistosome biology, particularly that of S. mansoni, which can be targeted for the development of anti-schistosome drugs, to treat the associated chronic and debilitating ‘neglected’ parasitic disease schistosomiasis.

Schistosomiasis infects more than 250 million people globally, in regions without access to clean water and causes pathology of the visceral organs. The disease primarily affects school-aged children and is associated with poor physical and cognitive development. Given the scope and associated morbidity and mortality of schistosomiasis, the use of a single drug compound to treat this disease raises concerns for the development of resistance and is unsustainable. My research has thus focused on better understanding the parasite’s biology by identifying neurotransmitters and their associated signaling proteins in the S. mansoni nervous system and characterizing these proteins and signaling mechanisms, using immunological, pharmacological, genetic and biochemical approaches.

As a member of Dr. Caffrey’s research group, my current research interests have shifted to identifying effective drugs to kill the parasite, using high-content screening (HCS) combined with gene expression profiling. The goal of my research is to identify patterns in how the parasite is killed, to characterize these responses and to identify biomarkers to measure compound efficacy.


Octopamine signaling in the metazoan pathogen Schistosoma mansoni: localization, small-molecule screening and opportunities for drug development. Dis Model Mech. 2018 Jul 30;11(7). pii: dmm033563. doi: 10.1242/dmm.033563. El-Sakkary N, Chen S, Arkin MR, Caffrey CR, Ribeiro P.

Phenotypic, chemical and functional characterization of cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) as a potential anthelmintic drug target. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2017 Jul 13;11(7):e0005680. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005680. eCollection 2017 Jul. Long T, Rojo-Arreola L, Shi D, El-Sakkary N, Jarnagin K, Rock F, Meewan M, Rascón AA Jr, Lin L, Cunningham KA, Lemieux GA, Podust L, Abagyan R, Ashrafi K, McKerrow JH, Caffrey CR.

Biogenic amines and the control of neuromuscular signaling in schistosomes. Invert Neurosci. 2012 Jun;12(1):13-28. doi: 10.1007/s10158-012-0132-y. Review. Ribeiro P, Gupta V, El-Sakkary N.

A novel G protein-coupled receptor of Schistosoma mansoni (SmGPR-3) is activated by dopamine and is widely expressed in the nervous system. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2012;6(2):e1523. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001523. El-Shehabi F, Taman A, Moali LS, El-Sakkary N, Ribeiro P.