Skip Navigation
Leading research to understand, treat, and prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases
Skip Content Marketing
  • Share this:
  • submit to facebook
  • Tweet it
  • submit to reddit
  • submit to StumbleUpon
  • submit to Google +

Frank R. DeLeo, Ph.D.

Photo of Frank R. DeLeo, Ph.D. 

Chief, Laboratory of Bacteriology
Chief, Pathogen-Host Cell Biology Section

Major Areas of Research

  • Neutrophil biology and function
  • Neutrophil-bacteria interactions, with special emphasis on the interaction of MRSA and human neutrophils
  • Staphylococcus aureus virulence mechanisms
  • Clinically related research performed in collaboration with DIR laboratories in Bethesda, Maryland

Program Description

Human neutrophil phagocytosis of Staphylococcus aureus 

Although most bacteria are killed readily by neutrophils, pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus have evolved mechanisms to circumvent destruction by these key innate immune cells and thereby cause human infections. A better understanding of the bacteria-neutrophil interface at the cell and molecular levels will provide information critical to our understanding, treatment, and control of disease caused by bacterial pathogens.

The long-term objective of our research is to promote development of enhanced diagnostics, better prophylactic agents, and new treatments for emerging infectious pathogens such as community-associated (or -acquired) methicillin-resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA). To achieve that objective, the Pathogen-Host Cell Biology Section does the following:

  • Conducts a systematic molecular dissection of steps involved in the pathogen-host interaction, with specific emphasis on the interaction of bacterial pathogens with human neutrophils
  • Investigates mechanisms mediating evasion of innate immunity by pathogens of special interest such as Staphylococcus aureus
  • Identifies new virulence genes involved in the pathogenesis of infections caused by pathogens of special interest
  • Uses appropriate ex vivo assays, animal models (including knock-out mice), and (if possible) human specimens to test hypotheses developed from in vitro analyses


Image of Staphylococcus aureus.
Community MRSA (red) causes destruction of human neutrophils (neutrophil debris, yellow).
Credit: NIAID

Dr. DeLeo received his Ph.D. in microbiology from Montana State University in 1996, studying the molecular basis of superoxide generation by human neutrophils. He did his postdoctoral training in the area of innate immunity and infectious diseases in the Department of Medicine at the University of Iowa (1996–2000). Dr. DeLeo joined the staff at NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories in 2000 and served previously as Acting Chief of the Laboratory of Human Bacterial Pathogenesis (2007-2015). He was appointed to the NIH Senior Biomedical Research Service in 2011 and is Chief of the newly formed Laboratory of Bacteriology.

Editorial Boards

  • Infection and Immunity
  • Journal of Innate Immunity

Research Group

Scott D. Kobayashi, Ph.D. (Staff Scientist)
Natalia Malachowa, Ph.D. (Research Fellow)
Adeline R. Porter (Microbiologist)
Brett Freedman (Biologist)
Tyler Nygaard, Ph.D. (Postdoctoral Fellow)
Amanda Brinkworth, Ph.D. (Postdoctoral Fellow)

Selected Publications

Brinkworth AJ, Hammer CH, Olano LR, Kobayashi SD, Chen L, Kreiswirth BN, DeLeo FR. Identification of Outer Membrane and Exoproteins of Carbapenem-Resistant Multilocus Sequence Type 258 Klebsiella pneumoniae. PLoS One. 2015 Apr 20;10(4):e0123219.

Malachowa N, Kobayashi SD, Sturdevant DE, Scott DP, DeLeo FR. Insights into the Staphylococcus aureus-host interface: global changes in host and pathogen gene expression in a rabbit skin infection model. PLoS One. 2015 Feb 26;10(2):e0117713.

Lu T, Porter AR, Kennedy AD, Kobayashi SD, DeLeo FR. Phagocytosis and killing of Staphylococcus aureus by human neutrophils. J Innate Immun. 2014;6(5):639-49.

Chen L, Mathema B, Pitout JD, DeLeo FR, Kreiswirth BN. Epidemic Klebsiella pneumoniae ST258 is a hybrid strain. MBio. 2014 Jun 24;5(3):e01355-14.

DeLeo FR, Chen L, Porcella SF, Martens CA, Kobayashi SD, Porter AR, Chavda KD, Jacobs MR, Mathema B, Olsen RJ, Bonomo RA, Musser JM, Kreiswirth BN. Molecular dissection of the evolution of carbapenem-resistant multilocus sequence type 258 Klebsiella pneumoniae. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Apr 1;111(13):4988-93.

Visit PubMed for a complete publication list.

Selected Data in Public Repositories

Microarray data for Voyich et al., 2005. J Immunol. 175: 3907-3919, are posted on the Gene Expression Omnibus as data series GSE2728.

Microarray data for Kobayashi et al., 2004. J Immunol. 172: 636-643, are posted on the Gene Expression Omnibus as data series GSE935.

back to top

Last Updated November 04, 2015