Jesus G. Valenzuela, Ph.D.

Jesus G. Valenzuela, Ph.D.

Chief, Vector Molecular Biology Section

Major Areas of Research

  • Impact of vector arthropod bites and vector-derived factors on innate and adaptive host skin immune responses
  • Determinants of successful parasite infection and transmission in Leishmania-infected sand flies
  • Translational research on vectors of disease with emphasis in sand flies, ticks and mosquitoes

Biography

Dr. Valenzuela received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Arizona in 1995. He joined the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases in 1996, became a research fellow in 1999, and became a tenure-track investigator in the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research in October 2002. Dr. Valenzuela became a Senior Investigator in October 2009. In 2019, Dr. Valenzuela became deputy chief of the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research.

Program Description

The Vector Molecular Biology Section (VMBS) focuses on understanding how molecules from arthropod vectors are critical for the success of pathogen transmission and translating this knowledge into disease control opportunities. The section has two main themes: dissecting the immune events following an arthropod bite, mainly the cellular interactions at the vector-host-pathogen interface, and their implication for disease pathogenesis; and elucidating the determinants of successful transmission to a mammalian host by a competent arthropod vector.

The VMBS uses immunology, biochemistry, bioinformatics and functional genomic approaches combined with field entomological and clinical studies to address our main research questions. The main vector arthropods we study are sand flies, ticks and mosquitoes. Our two main interests encompass basic and translational lines of research. Basic research focuses on understanding the initial events in host skin after infected vector bites and has revealed several new mediators leading to immune changes affecting pathogen establishment. Another line of basic research focuses on understanding how arthropod vectors become infectious and has led to the identification of a new developmental stage in Leishmania that is pertinent to efficacy of transmission in nature. Our translational research goals are the understanding of the innate and adaptive skin immune responses to arthropod vector bites in human volunteers, the development of an effective vaccine by incorporating vector salivary proteins, and the development of biomarkers of vector exposure for epidemiological studies in disease endemic countries.

Research Group

Shaden Kamhawi, Ph.D., Associate Scientist

Fabiano Oliveira, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Scientist

Tiago Donatelli Serafim, Ph.D., Research Fellow

Daniel Sonenshine, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Guest Researcher

Joshua Lacsina, M.D., Ph.D., NIAID Clinical Fellow

Eva Iniguez, Ph.D., Post-doctoral Fellow (INRO)

Thiago Soares de Souza Vieira, Ph.D., Visiting Post-doctoral Fellow

Johannes Doehl, Ph.D., Visiting Post-doctoral Fellow

Mara Short, Post-baccalaureate Research Trainee

Elliot Lowe, Post-baccalaureate Research Trainee (UGSP Scholar)

Aiyana Ponce, Post-baccalaureate Research Trainee (INRO)

Yvonne Rangel Gonzalez, Post-baccalaureate Research Trainee (INRO)

Vector Molecular Biology Section (Valenzuela) Group Image

First row (left to right): Shaden Kamhawi, Fabiano Oliveira, Tiago Donatelli Serafim, Daniel Sonenshine. Second row (left to right): Joshua Lacsina, Eva Iniguez, Thiago Soares de Souza Vieira, Johannes Doehl. Third row (left to right): Mara Short, Elliot Lowe, Aiyana Ponce, Yvonne Rangel Gonzalez.

Credit
NIAID

Sand Fly Insectary Group

Claudio Meneses, Research Associate

Timothy Wilson, IRTA Student

Serena Doh, IRTA Student

Aku Diane Akueson, IRTA Student

Vector Molecular Biology Section (Valenzuela)

(left to right) Claudio Meneses, Timothy Wilson, Aku Diane Akueson, Serena Doh.

Credit
NIAID

Selected Publications

Skin Immune Responses to Vector Bites:

Vector-Pathogen Molecular Interactions

Translational Research on Vectors of Disease:

Visit PubMed for a complete publication listing.

Patents

Valenzuela JG, Belkaid Y, Kamhawi S, Sacks D, Ribeiro JMC, inventors; The United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, assignee. Anti-arthropod vector vaccines, methods of selecting and uses thereof. United States patent US 7,964,576. 21 Jun 2011.

Valenzuela JG, Ribeiro JMC, Kamhawi S, Belkaid Y, Fischer L, Audonnet JC, Milward F, inventors; The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services, Merial Limited, assignees. P. ariasi polypeptidesp. perniciosuspolypeptides and methods of use. United States patent US 7,741,437. 22 Jun 2010.

Valenzuela JG, Ribeiro JMC, Barral A, Netto M, Brodskyn C, Gomes R, inventors; The United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Cruz, assignees. Lutzomyia longipalpis polypeptides and methods of use. United States patent US 7,485,306. 3 Feb 2009.

Valenzuela JG, Belkaid Y, Kamhawi S, Sacks D, Ribeiro JMC, inventors; The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services, assignee. Anti-arthropod vector vaccines, methods of selecting and uses thereof. United States patent US 7,388,089. 17 Jun 2008.

Ribeiro JMC, Valenzuela JG, Charlab R, Mather TN, inventors; The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services, University of Rhode Island, assignees. Ixodes salivary anticomplement protein. United States patent US 7,153,947. 26 Dec 2006.

Francischetti IMB, Valenzuela JG, Ribeiro JMC, inventors; The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services, assignee. Ixodes scapularis tissue factor pathway inhibitor. United States patent US 7,078,508. 18 Jul 2006.

Participating Research Networks:

  • GHIT partnership with CBER, FDA; Ohio State University, McGill University, Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Limited and Nagasaki University
  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Yale School of Medicine
  • Yale School of Public Health
  • University of Maryland School of Medicine
  • Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
  • ConserV Bioscience
  • HIC-Vac network
  • CPqGM – FIOCRUZ
  • Federal University of Minas Gerais
  • Federal University of Ouro Preto
  • Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
  • Pasteur Institute of Tunis
  • Charles University in Prague
  • Centro de Inv. en Alimentación y Desarrollo, A.C. (CIAD)
Content last reviewed on