Eric Calvo, Ph.D.

Eric Calvo, PhD.

Credit: NIAID
Earl Stadtman Investigator, NIH Distinguished Scholar
Chief, Molecular Entomology Unit

Major Areas of Research

  • Role of arthropod saliva in vector-borne disease transmission
  • Functional salivary transcriptomics and proteomics
  • Gene-editing approaches (based on the CRISPR/Cas9 system) to characterize gene function
  • Discovery of new salivary functions in blood feeding arthropods


Dr. Calvo was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. He received his B.Sc. in biochemistry from the University of Havana, Cuba, and his Ph.D. from the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. He did postdoctoral work at the University of California, Irvine, and at NIAID. Dr. Calvo became a staff scientist first at the FDA and then at NIAID, where he is now an Earl Stadtman tenure-track investigator and NIH Distinguished Scholar. The primary aim of his research is to enrich the functional annotation of disease vectors’ salivary proteins and provide a better understanding of their biologic function and potential involvement in pathogen transmission. His goal is to develop new control strategies to reduce or eliminate vector-borne diseases. He has also served as guest editor and reviewer for several scientific journals and international funding agencies.

Program Description

Although the role of mosquitoes as vectors of viruses and parasites was first discovered in the late 1800s, little is known about the function of most mosquito salivary proteins and their effects on disease transmission. The overall objective of my research is to understand the mechanisms of the vector-host and vector-pathogen interactions at the biochemical and molecular level. My approach uses biological and biophysical methodologies to first identify the components of an interaction system (e.g., mosquito-arbovirus) and then to examine the mechanistic details of the interaction. A combination of bioinformatic analyses, recombinant protein production, assay development, and gene editing (based on the CRISPR/Cas9 system) are being used to accomplish this goal.

In the last decade, we have contributed to the analysis of several salivary transcriptomes from blood-feeding arthropods. This unprecedented insight into the complexity of salivary molecules indicates that their molecular diversity as well as the diversity of their targets is larger than previously suspected. The biological function of most salivary proteins and their relevance in blood feeding and pathogen transmission remain to be discovered. The exponential increase in transcriptomic and genetic data, in volume and complexity, demands novel and creative methods for functional analysis and annotation. We aim to extend the functional characterization of salivary proteins from blood feeding arthropods and their role in pathogen transmission. Ultimately, this information will be synthesized into an integrated model of the vector’s blood-feeding process and further the understanding of disease transmission and the host’s response to vector-borne diseases. The goal of this research program is to gain new insights into vector-host and vector-pathogen basic biology and, ultimately, to develop new transmission-blocking strategies for vector-borne diseases.

Research Group

Eric Calvo's Molecular Entomology Unit Research Team

From left to right: Olivia Kern, Paola Valenzuela-Leon, Ines Martin-Martin, Eric Calvo, and Frank Criscione

From left to right: Olivia Kern, Paola Valenzuela-Leon, Ines Martin-Martin, Eric Calvo, and Frank Criscione

  • Dr. Ines Martin-Martin, Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow
  • Dr. Frank Criscione, INRO Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Dr. Paola Valenzuela-Leon, Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow
  • Ms. Olivia Kern, Postbaccalaureate Fellow, Intramural Research Training Awards Program

Selected Publications

Martin-Martin I, Chagas AC, Guimaraes-Costa AB, Oliveira F, Moore IN, Sanchez EE, Suntravat M, Valenzuela JG, Ribeiro JMC, Calvo E. Immunity to LuloHya and Lundep, the salivary spreading factors from Lutzomyia longipalpis, protects against Leishmania major infection. PLoS Pathog. 2018 May 3;14(5):e1007006.

Ramirez JL, de Almeida Oliveira G, Calvo E, Dalli J, Colas RA, Serhan CN, Ribeiro JM, Barillas-Mury C. A mosquito lipoxin/lipocalin complex mediates innate immune priming in Anopheles gambiae. Nat Commun. 2015 Jun 23;6:7403.

Chagas AC, McPhie P, San H, Narum D, Reiter K, Tokomasu F, Brayner FA, Alves LC, Ribeiro JMC, Calvo E. Simplagrin, a platelet aggregation inhibitor from Simulium nigrimanum salivary glands specifically binds to the Von Willebrand factor receptor in collagen and inhibits carotid thrombus formation in vivo. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2014 Jun 12;8(6):e2947.

Chagas AC, Ramirez JL, Jasinskiene N, James AA, Ribeiro JMC, Marinotti O, Calvo, E. Collagen-binding protein, Aegyptin, regulates probing time and blood feeding success in the dengue vector mosquito, Aedes aegypti. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 May 13;111(19):6946-51.

Chagas AC, Oliveira L, Valenzuela JG, Ribeiro JMC, Calvo E. 2014. Lundep, a sand fly salivary endonuclease increases Leishmania parasite survival in neutrophils and inhibits XIIa contact activation in human plasma. PLoS Pathog. 2014 Feb 6;10(2):e1003923

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