Signature Interdisciplinary Program in Allergy, Immunology and Infectious Disease
USF Health

Basic Sciences Faculty


Burt Anderson, PhD (Professor, Molecular Medicine and Director of BSL-3 Core Laboratory) The primary focus of my laboratory is to better understand how bacteria cause disease. Specifically, how bacteria control. expression of genes that are required to colonize, invade and exert their pathogenic effects on the host. My current focus is on bacteria that cause emerging diseases or are potential agents of bioterrorism. (Funded by NIH/NIAD).

George Blanck, Ph.D. (Professor, Molecular medicine) My Lab goals are:

  1. to understand MHC class II promoter regulations, especially as related to negative regulation and the mechanisms of transition from negative to positive regulation, and
  2. to understand the role of MHC class II and IL-8 in tumor immunology.

The laboratory techniques currently used include methylated DNA transfections and methylated DNA promoter activation techniques, methyalation sensitive PCR, ChIP assays and antibody blockade in mice.

Jean M. Citron, Ph.D. (Microbiologist, Bay Pines VA Healthcare System) My lab is interested in elucidating the virulence and on targeting global regulatory genes in Francisella tularensis (working in collaboration with Dr. Burt Anderson). The goal of this work is to create mutants in global regulatory genes that have been shown to play a crucial role in virulence gene expression in other bacterial systems.

 Nagwa El-Badri (Dajani) M.D., Ph.D. (Assistant professor, Department of Neurosurgery) My research interests focus on cellular immunology and stem cell biology. Purification and characterization of adult stem cells from the bone marrow and human umbilical cord blood (hematopoietic stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells, endothelial progenitor cells), effect of stem cell therapy on autoimmune disease in systemic lupus murine model. Specifically. current research is aimed at determining the capacity of hematopoietic stem cell transdifferentiate into non hematopoietic tissues in pathology affected organs, in autoimmune disease.

Francisco Fernandez, M.D. (Professor and chair USF Health Psychiatry) The major goals of our research are to understand

  1. the role of antiretrovirals in increasing neuronal amyloid load in HIV. Impressive in vitro pilot data collected and to be presented at upcoming AIDS meeting.
  2. ii) the role of flavonoids in blocking gp120 binding and activation of JAK/STAT1 pathway.

Barbara Hansen, Ph.D. (Professor, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and Director, Obesity, Diabetes, and Aging Research Center) The Center for Preclinical Research conducts studies on the pathophysiology of obesity, diabetes, and diabetic complications, including the associated macrovascular, cardiovascular, microvascular, and inflammatory conditions. Therapeutic interventions to treat or prevent these are also under investigation.

 Thomas Klein, Ph.D. (Professor of Molecular Medicine) The major goals of our research are to understand the following areas: cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) biology in B cells including the role in regulating antibody production and class switching including IgE production; determining the regulation of the CB2 gene expression in B cells, including cloning the putative promoter; cannabinoid regulation of the T helper polaringzing function of dendritic cells; the mechanisms involved in the interaction of Legionella pneumophila, Chlamydia pneumoniae, and Bacillus anthracis with dendritic cells. The methods we routinely use are: all aspects of cellular immunology and cytokine biology ( ELISA'S, flow cytometry, etc.). dendtric cell biology, Toll-like receptor biology, knock-out mice, cloning, animal infection models with bacteria realtime PCR, and 5'RACE.

 Dennis E. Kyle, PhD. (Professor, Department of Global Health, College of Public Health) My research interests are in Infectious Diseases, especially malaria and leishmaniasis. My current projects are elucidating mechanism(s) of resistance to artemisinin (NIAID) and drug discovery for malaria (Medicines for Malaria Venture) and leishmania (Gates Foundation). This project aims to investigate the rate at which dormant parasites develop and recover following treatment with various artemisinin derivatives in vitro. In addition the duration of dormancy will be estimated and the role of dormancy in vivo will be investigated in an animal model. The results of this project will provide valuable information regarding the mechanisms of treatment failure for artemisinin drugs. The results will aid the formulation of optimal ACT regimens, improved treatment outcomes for malaria patients and defined strategies of preventing the development of resistance.

Gary W. Litman, Ph.D. (Professor of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Professor of Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Vice Chairman for Basic Sciences, Department of Pediatrics) Studies in our laboratory are directed at understanding alternative mediators of innate and adaptive immune function. Our efforts are largely directed at delineating the genetics, structure and ligand binding characteristics of novel immune-type receptors (NITRs), modular domain immune-type receptors (MDIRs) and variable region chitin-binding domain proteins (VCBPs) using nonmammalian model systems. Technical capabilities: BAC cloning, high throughput sequencing, zebrafish transgenesis and mutagenesis, morpholino technology and x-ray crystallography.

Shyam Mohapatra, PhD (Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Molecular Medicine, and Director of Basic Research Division of Allergy and Immunology-Culverhouse Airway Disease Center). Research in the Mohapatra lab focuses on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of inflammation and prophylactc and therapeutic modulation of inflammation with specific emphasis on upper and lower airway diseases, including allergen and/or respiratory syncytial virus-induced asthma and lung cancer. The lab has developed specific expertise in designing viral and non-viral (polymeric nanoparticle)  vectors for novel methods of delivering genes and siRNAs into mammalian cells in vitro and in vivo. These vectors are used to teset the effect of increasing or decreasing the expression in the lung of the therapeutic genes in various model systems of specific lung diseases including asthma and lung cancer.  Two classes of vaccine vectors have been designed:

  1. vectors delivered by nanoparticles for expression of the appropriate antigen, cytokine,, and/or natriuretic peptide hormone  protection from disease.
  2. Adenovirus and adeno-associated virus vectors for the expression of antigens and therapeutic genes.

 Alberto L. van Olphen, D.V.M., Ph.D. (Center for Biological Defense, College of Public Health,) Research in our laboratory are directed towards the development of novel antiviral compounds against influenza. (Neuraminidase as Target) This project is directed to the identification of differentially expressed genes in cows carrying Bovine viral diarrhea-persistently fetus with the ultimate goal of identifying surrogate marker of BVDV infection for the development of diagnostic tests.

 Andreas Seyfang, PhD. (Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Medicine, Department of Neurosurgery- Center of Excellence for Aging & Brain Repair Member, H.Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute- Molecular Oncology Program) At the Laboratory of Medical Microbiology and Molecular Parasitology, we are studying membrane permeases (transporters) and receptors in opportunistic microbial pathogens including protozzoan parasites (trypanosomes, Leishmania), nosocomical and neuro-pathogenic fungi (Candida albicans, Cryptococcus neoformans), and mycobacteria. We use a multi-disciplinary approach of biochemistry, proteomics, molecular pharmacology and genetics to investigate the structure-function relationship, substrate/drug selectivity, protein-protein interaction, and significance for microbial pathogenicity of these membrane proteins at the molecular level in in vitro culture and animal models.

 Douglas Shytle, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Center for Excellence in Aging and Brain Repair and Silver Child Development Center, Departments of Neurosurgery, Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Pharmacology, Psychology, and Neuroscience Program). Research in our laboratory are directed towards Cholinergic modulation of microglial activation as a novel therapy for AD and to test whether cholinergic modulation would impact AD-like pathology in AD animal model. Furthermore, these studies will gain an insight into the mechanisms of action of nicotine and/or glantamine to mitigate AD-like pathology.

Jun Tan, M.D., Ph.D( Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Medicine, Medical Microbiology & Immunology, Pharmacology & Therapeutics and Neurosurgery, Director of Neuro Immunology Laboratory, Institute for Research in Psychiatry) Research in our laboratory are directed twards the role of CD40L in Gliosis and Amyloidosis in Alzheimer Transgenic Mice. The major goals of the research are

  1. the examination of age-dependent Abeta/beta-amyloid pathology in Tg APPsw/CD40L deficient mice compared to Tg APPsw mice;
  2. characterization of markers of the activated microglia (CD40, CD11b, MHC II) and the reactive microglial product complement C1q component Tg APPsw/CD40L deficient versus Tg APPsw mice as they age;
  3. investigation of the activated astrocytes and their production apolipoprotein E in aging Tg APPsw/CD40L deficient mice compared to Tg APPsw mice.

Kenneth E. Ugen, Ph.D )Professor, Department of Molecular Medicine and Scientific Member of Center for Molecular Delivery) My current research interests deal with the development of novel gene based immunotherapeutics against cancer, particularly against metastatic melanoma to be used in animals models and humans. Cytokines such as IL-15 as well as other non-cytokine immunotherapeutic are being targeted.

Todd Wills, M.D (Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and International Medicine) My research interests include HIV and hepatitis co-infections, novel hepatitis C therapies, Human Papilloma Virus, hematologic complications of HIV/AIDS, HIV therapeutics, diagnostic testing and HIV/AIDS care in resource limited settings. Most research is performed at the Hillsborough County Health Department Research Unit, which has approximately 17 active trials at present.

Xue-Zhong Yu, M.D.(Assistant Professor, Immunology and BMT Programs, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institut). The major goals of our research are to:

    • Control GVHD by Foxp3-transduced, CD4*CD25-TCR transgenic (Tg) cells,
    • Control GVHD by a Foxp3-transduced, CD4*CD25-T-cell clone specific for a known antigen.