Joshua R. Lacsina, M.D., Ph.D.

Multiscale Systems Biology Section

NIH Main Campus, Bethesda, MD

Joshua R. Lacsina, M.D., Ph.D. (He/Him/His)

Assistant Clinical Investigator

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Specialty(s): Infectious Disease, Internal Medicine
Provides direct clinical care to patients at NIH Clinical Center

Portrait of Joshua R. Lacsina, M.D., Ph.D.

Major Areas of Research

  • Human immunity to Leishmania infection
  • Systems immunology of human skin: single cell multiomics and multiplex spatial profiling
  • Global health: human systems immunology at international field sites
  • Leishmania vaccine development

Program Description

The Lacsina Laboratory applies systems immunology approaches to investigate human skin immunity to the protozoan parasite Leishmania. The parasite is transmitted to humans via the bite of infected female sand fly vectors, with skin infection leading to the development of cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL), a disease characterized by frequent ulceration, permanent scarring, and disfigurement. As a neglected tropical disease (NTD), there are over one million new cases of CL annually, with over a billion people worldwide living in Leishmania-endemic areas, particularly among populations living in poverty and in areas of human conflict. Despite this massive global burden of disease, there is no licensed human vaccine against leishmaniasis, and current therapies are variably effective.

A major roadblock to the development of vaccines and novel therapeutics is our incomplete understanding of human immunity to Leishmania in the skin. Dr. Lacsina uses single cell multiomics to define novel immune cell subsets and signaling pathways that orchestrate the human immune response in the skin and blood to Leishmania infection. The laboratory is currently developing spatial profiling methods to define the architecture and tissue organization of human skin immunity to the parasite, with the goal of applying these insights to design and test novel vaccines and targeted therapies against leishmaniasis. These studies are performed in collaboration with the NIAID Leishmaniasis Clinic (Principal Investigator: Dr. Elise O’Connell, Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases). Future work will focus on applying these systems immunology approaches in field studies of CL patients in endemic areas, as well as in broader investigations of human skin immunity in homeostasis, inflammation, and infection.



M.D., Ph.D., Duke University

A.B., Harvard University

Dr. Lacsina received his A.B. in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University and his M.D. and Ph.D. in Pathology through the Duke University Medical Scientist Training Program. He completed his residency training in internal medicine at the University of Washington (UW). From 2015 to 2016 he served as the UW Global Health Chief Resident at Naivasha Sub-County Hospital in Kenya. He completed his clinical fellowship training in infectious diseases at NIAID and conducted his fellowship research with Dr. Jesus Valenzuela (Laboratory of Malaria & Vector Research) on human skin immunity to the bites of arthropod vectors of infection. In 2021, Dr. Lacsina was appointed as an Assistant Clinical Investigator in LISB through the NIAID Transition Program in Clinical Research. Dr. Lacsina is certified in internal medicine and infectious disease by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Selected Publications

Matheson AI, Mogeni OD, Lacsina JR, Ochieng M, Audi A, Bigogo G, Neatherlin J, Margolis HS, Fields B, Ahenda P, Walson JL, Montgomery JM. No Evidence of Acute Dengue Virus Infections at a Rural Site in Western Kenya, 2011 and 2013. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2020 Nov;103(5):2054-2058.

DeSouza-Vieira T, Iniguez E, Serafim TD, de Castro W, Karmakar S, Disotuar MM, Cecilio P, Lacsina JR, Meneses C, Nagata BM, Cardoso S, Sonenshine DE, Moore IN, Borges VM, Dey R, Soares MP, Nakhasi HL, Oliveira F, Valenzuela JG, Kamhawi S. Heme Oxygenase-1 Induction by Blood-Feeding Arthropods Controls Skin Inflammation and Promotes Disease Tolerance. Cell Rep. 2020 Oct 27;33(4):108317.

Lacsina JR, Marks OA, Liu X, Reid DW, Jagannathan S, Nicchitta CV. Premature translational termination products are rapidly degraded substrates for MHC class I presentation. PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e51968.

LaMonte G, Philip N, Reardon J, Lacsina JR, Majoros W, Chapman L, Thornburg CD, Telen MJ, Ohler U, Nicchitta CV, Haystead T, Chi JT. Translocation of sickle cell erythrocyte microRNAs into Plasmodium falciparum inhibits parasite translation and contributes to malaria resistance. Cell Host Microbe. 2012 Aug 16;12(2):187-99.

Lacsina JR, LaMonte G, Nicchitta CV, Chi JT. Polysome profiling of the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Mol Biochem Parasitol. 2011 Sep;179(1):42-6.

Visit PubMed for a complete publication list.

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