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Leo J. Kenefic, PhD

Academic Title:

Assistant Professor

Primary Appointment:

Medical and Research Technology


AHB, 100 Penn St., 415-A

Phone (Primary):




Education and Training

1986                BS, Microbiology,Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 

2000                MS, Biomedical Sciences, Hood College, Frederick, MD

2008                PhD, Biology, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ

                        Thesis: "Genetic diversity of Bacillus anthracis in North America"


Dr. Kenefic is broadly trained in molecular genetics and pathogen genomics. He has significant prior laboratory experiences in clinical microbiology and molecular genetics. After working in a clinical setting and gaining certification as a Specialist in Microbiology through the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), he did is PhD thesis work in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Keim at Northern Arizona University. Upon completion of his graduate studies he accepted a position as a Research Supervisor and post doctoral fellow at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine, Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) Malaria Group in Dr. Christopher Plowe's Lab. Dr. Kenefic subsequently joined the faculty in the Department of Medical and Research Technology.

Research/Clinical Keywords

Microbiology, Pathogen Genomics, DNA Sequencing

Highlighted Publications

1-    Kenefic LJ, Pearson T, Okinaka RT, Schupp JM, Wagner DM, Hoffmaster AR, Trim CB, Chung WK, Beaudry JA, Jiang L, Gajer P, Foster JT, Mead JI, Ravel J, Keim P. Pre-Columbian Origins for North American Anthrax. PLoS One. 2009 March 13. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004813

2-    Rasko DA, Worsham PL, Abshire TG, Stanley ST, Bannan JD, Wilson MR, Langham RJ, Decker RS, Jiang L, Read TD, Phillippy AM, Salzberg SL, Pop M, Van Ert MN, Kenefic LJ, Keim PS, Fraser-Liggett CM, Ravel J. Bacillus anthracis comparative genome analysis in support of the Amerithrax investigation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011 Mar 22;108(12):5027-32.

3-    Takala-Harrison S, Clark TG, Jacob CG, Cummings MP, Miotto O, Dondorp AM, Fukuda MM, Nosten F, Noedl H, Imwong M, Bethell D, Se Y, Lon C, Tyner SD, Saunders DL, Socheat D, Ariey F, Phyo AP, Starzengruber P, Fuehrer HP, Swoboda P, Stepniewska K, Flegg J, Arze C, Cerqueira GC, Silva JC, Ricklefs SM, Porcella SF, Stephens RM, Adams M, Kenefic LJ, Campino S, Auburn S, Macinnis B, Kwiatkowski DP, Su XZ, White NJ, Ringwald P, Plowe CV. A genome-wide association study of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinin treatment in Southeast Asia. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2013 Jan 2;110(1):240-5.

4-    Khattak AA, Venkatesan M, Khatoon L, Ouattara A, Kenefic LJ, Nadeem MF, Nighat F, Malik SA, Plowe CV. Prevalence and patterns of antifolate and chloroquine drug resistance markers in Plasmodium vivax across Pakistan. Malar J. 2013 Sep 5;12:310.

5-    Cohee LM, Kalilani-Phiri L, Mawindo P, Joshi S, Adams M, Kenefic L, Jacob CG, Taylor TE, Laufer MK. Parasite dynamics in the peripheral blood and the placenta during pregnancy-associated malaria infection. Malar J. 2016 Sep 21;15(1):483

Research Interests

My research interests involve the use of molecular genetic data in prevention strategies for the control of viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases, as well as the vectors responsible for their transmission. This is acheived through rapid diagnoses and tracking of disease movements among populations and the identification of source strains. Certain genetic polymorphisms are directly correlated to antibiotic resistance or increased virulence and have important ramifications for vaccine development and public health. One of my current research interests is Plasmodium falciparum, a causative agent of malaria. Our goal is to use genetic markers to select suitable targets for vaccine development and to monitor emerging drug resistance. I am also interested in emerging drug resistance in environmental bacterial pathogens.

Awards and Affiliations


Professional Society Memberships

1996-present               American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP)

2007-present               American Society for Microbiology (ASM)

2007-2009                   American Biological Safety Association (ABSA)

2012-present               Maryland Branch- American Society for Microbiology (ASM)

2012-present               American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH)


Honors and Awards

1978                Navy ROTC Scholarship

2007                Arizona Science Foundation Graduate Fellow