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Harlan D. Caldwell, Ph.D.

Photo of Harlan D. Caldwell, Ph.D.

Chief, Chlamydial Pathogenesis Section

Laboratory of Clinical Infectious Diseases

Major Areas of Research

  • Immunity to chlamydial infection
  • Chlamydia vaccine design

Program Description

The focus of our research is to understand how chlamydiae evade innate host defense mechanisms, to define mechanisms of adaptive protective immunity, and to identify protective antigens. This information is being used to design new therapeutic strategies for the prevention of human chlamydial diseases. We use in vitro and in vivo models of infection together with comparative genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, modern cell biology, and immunology to accomplish these goals.


Dr. Caldwell received his Ph.D. in pathobiology from the University of Washington in 1976. After completing a senior research fellowship in the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington in 1978, Dr. Caldwell joined the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco, as an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology. In 1980, he was recruited to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a tenure-track investigator in the Laboratory of Microbial Structure and Function. He became a tenured investigator in 1986 and chief of the Laboratory of Intracellular Parasites in 1990. He is a recipient of the NIH Director’s Award, NIH Merit Award, and PHS Superior Service Award. He was appointed to the NIH Senior Biomedical Research Service in 1997. Dr. Caldwell is a member of the editorial board of Infection and Immunity and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. He is an internationally recognized leader in the fields of chlamydial pathogenesis and immunology.

Research Group

John Carlson, Ph.D., Senior Research Assistant
Bill Whitmire, Ph.D., Senior Research Assistant
Gail Sturdevant, Ph.D., Senior Research Assistant
Laszlo Kari, M.D., Senior Research Scientist
Norma Olivares Zavaleta, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow
Lacey Taylor, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow
Robbie Southern, Ph.D., Postdoctoral IRTA Fellow
Lihua Song, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow
Bing Zhou, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow
Leah Bess, Postbaccalaureate IRTA Fellow
Heather Watkins, Postbaccalaureate IRTA Fellow
Carey Downey, Postbaccalaureate IRTA Fellow

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Selected Publications

Kari L, Whitmire WM, Olivares-Zavaleta N, Goheen MM, Taylor LD, Carlson JH, Sturdevant GL, Lu C, Bakios LE, Randall LB, Parnell MJ, Zhong G, Caldwell HD. A live-attenuated chlamydial vaccine protects against trachoma in nonhuman primates. J Exp Med. 2011 Oct 24;208(11):2217-23.

Kari L, Goheen MM, Randall LB, Taylor LD, Carlson JH, Whitmire WM, Virok D, Rajaram K, Endresz V, McClarty G, Nelson DE, Caldwell HD. Generation of targeted Chlamydia trachomatis null mutants. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011 Apr 26;108(17):7189-93.

Kari L, Whitmire WM, Crane DD, Reveneau N, Carlson JH, Goheen MM, Peterson EM, Pal S, de la Maza LM, Caldwell HD. Chlamydia trachomatis native major outer membrane protein induces partial protection in nonhuman primates: implication for a trachoma transmission-blocking vaccine. J Immunol. 2009 Jun 15;182(12):8063-70.

Carlson JH, Whitmire WM, Crane DD, Wicke L, Virtaneva K, Sturdevant DE, Kupko JJ 3rd, Porcella SF, Martinez-Orengo N, Heinzen RA, Kari L, Caldwell HD. The Chlamydia trachomatis plasmid is a transcriptional regulator of chromosomal genes and a virulence factor. Infect Immun. 2008 Jun;76(6):2273-83.

Nelson DE, Taylor LD, Shannon JG, Whitmire WM, Crane DD, McClarty G, Su H, Kari L, Caldwell HD. Phenotypic rescue of Chlamydia trachomatis growth in IFN-gamma treated mouse cells by irradiated Chlamydia muridarum. Cell Microbiol. 2007 Sep;9(9):2289-98.

Nelson DE, Virok DP, Wood H, Roshick C, Johnson RM, Whitmire WM, Crane DD, Steele-Mortimer O, Kari L, McClarty G, Caldwell HD. Chlamydial IFN-gamma immune evasion is linked to host infection tropism. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2005 Jul 26;102(30):10658-63.

Visit PubMed for a complete publication listing.

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Last Updated July 01, 2015