Skip Navigation Links
Contact Information:
Department of
Fisheries, Animal &
Veterinary Science

20A Woodward Hall,
9 East Alumni Avenue,
Kingston, RI 02881.
Phone: 401-874-2477.
Fax: 401-874-7575.
Marta Gomez-Chiarri
Job Title: Professor & Department Chairman
Address: 169 CBLS,
Phone: 401-874-2917
  • Ph.D., 1992, Universidad Complutense Madrid, Spain
  • B.S., 1988, Universidad Complutense Madrid, Spain
Research Interests

Infectious diseases have a serious impact on shellfish and finfish, constraining the expansion of aquaculture and endangering wild fisheries. My research interests include the use of multidisciplinary approaches to the prevention and management of infectious diseases in cultured and wild shellfish and finfish. These approaches include studying the patterns of disease prevalence and distribution using traditional and molecular diagnostic tools, investigating host-pathogen interactions, mechanisms of pathogenesis and disease resistance, and using all this information to develop novel strategies to prevent diseases in aquatic organisms.

Examples of ongoing and past research projects in my laboratory include the elucidation of the molecular immune responses of the Eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica to the parasite Perkinsus marinus, causative agent of Dermo disease and the development of vaccines and management tools for the prevention of bacterial diseases in fish and shellfish. We are also exploring the long-term effects of pollutants on the immune response of the mummichog Fundulus heteroclitus. The facilities at the Aquatic Pathology Laboratory at East Farm and the Blount Aquaculture Pathology Laboratory allow us to perform experimental infections of freshwater and marine finfish and shellfish under controlled and secured conditions. I have a special interest in the innate immune system, and in using a comparative approach and novel techniques to increase our understanding of the immune defenses of aquatic organisms. I am a member of the Oyster and the Fundulus Genome Consortiums, two groups of scientists sharing information and resources for the advancement of research on these two organisms, which have been key species in environmental research.

The Aquatic Pathology laboratory also provides diagnostic and technical support for the local farmers, restoration projects, and aquaculture and fisheries managers in the State of Rhode Island. We perform an annual survey of disease in shellfish from Rhode Island waters. The results of this survey are available at (static maps).


  1. Remacha-Triviño A, Borsay-Horowitz D, Dungan C, Gual-Arnau X, Gómez-León J, Villamil L, Gómez-Chiarri M. Quantification of Perkinsus marinus in the american oyster Crassostrea virginica (Gmelin, 1791) by modern stereology. J. Parasitol. (2008) in press.
  2. Dorrington T, Gómez-Chiarri M. Antimicrobial peptides for use in oyster aquaculture: Effect on pathogens, commensals, and eukaryotic expression systems. J. Shellfish Res (2008) in press.
  3. Villamil L, Gómez-León J, Gómez-Chiarri M. Role of nitric oxide in the defenses of Crassostrea virginica to experimental infection with the protozoan parasite Perkinsus marinus. Developmental and Comparative Immunology (2007) 31(10):968-77.
  4. Lyons MM, Smolowitz R, Gómez-Chiarri M, Ward E. Epizootioogy of Quahog Parasite X (QPX) disease in Northern quahogs (=hard clams) Mercenaria mercenaria. Journal of Shellfish Research (2007) 26(2):371-382.
  5. Soffientino B, Gómez-Chiarri M, Specker J. Developmental changes in gut, skin, and gill epithelial glycoconjugates in summer flounder (Paralychthys dentatus L): a lectin biochemical study. Aquaculture (2006) 253:680-687.
  6. Amemiya C, Gómez-Chiarri M. Comparative genomics in vertebrate evolution and development. Journal of Experimental Zoology A Comp Exp Biol (2006) 305:672-682
  7. Gauger E, Smolowitz R, Uhlinger K, Casey J, Gómez-Chiarri M. Vibrio harveyi and other bacterial pathogens in cultured summer flounder. Aquaculture (2006) 260:10-20
  8. Cohen S, Tirindelli J, Gómez-Chiarri M, Nacci D. Functional implications of Major Histocompatibility (MH) variation using estuarine fish populations. Integrative and Comparative Biology (2006) 46:1016-1029
  9. Vazquez-Juarez RC, Gomez-Chiarri M, Barrera-Saldana H, Hernandez-Saavedra N, Dumas S, Ascencio F. Evaluation of DNA vaccination of spotted sand bass (Paralabrax maculatofasciatus) with two major outer-membrane protein-encoding genes from Aeromonas veronii. Fish Shellfish Immunol (2005) 19:153-163
  10. Muñoz P, Vance K, Gómez-Chiarri M. Protease activity in the plasma of American oysters, Crassostrea virginica, experimentally infected with the protozoan parasite Perkinsus marinus. J. Parasitol (2003) 89(5):941-951.
  11. Gómez-Chiarri M, Chiaverini L. Evaluation of promoters for the construction of DNA vaccines for aquaculture. Genet Anal (1999) 15:121-124.
  12. Soffientino B, Gwaltney T, Nelson DR, Specker JL, Mauel M, Gómez-Chiarri M. Infectious necrotizing enteritis and mortality caused by Vibrio carchariae in summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) during intensive culture. Dis Aquat Org (1999) 38:201-210.
  13. Schulte T, Gómez-Chiarri M, Powers DA. Variation in the structure and function of the promoter and 5’ flanking region of the LDH-B locus between populations of the teleost Fundulus heteroclitus. Genetics (1997) 145:759-769.
  14. Gómez-Chiarri M, Livingston S, Muro-Cacho M, Sanders S, Levine R.P. Introduction of foreign genes into the tissue of living fish by direct injection and particle bombardment. Diseases of Aquat Org (1996) 27:5-12
Think Big. We Do.
e-Campus | Sakai | | WebMail | Directory | Contact Us

University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881, USA 1-401-874-1000
Copyright © 2011. All rights reserved. Disclaimer | Web feedback
URI is an equal opportunity employer committed to the principles of affirmative action.