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Tulane Center for Translational Research in Infection & Inflammation ~ Faculty



Jay Kolls, MD
Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics
John W Deming Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine
Director, Center for Translational Research in Infection and Inflammation Tulane School of Medicine

Dr. Jay K. Kolls is Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, the John W Deming Endowed Chair in Internal Medicine and Director, Center for Translational Research in Infection and Inflammation Tulane School of Medicine. Prior to his recruitment to Tulane he was Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research at the Children Hospital of Pittsburgh/UPMC.   He earned his medical degree at the University of Maryland and completed his residency training in Internal Medicine/Pediatrics at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, LA.  After that he completed Fellowships in Adult and Pediatric Pulmonology at LSU and Tulane Health Sciences Center respectively.  He performed his research fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Bruce Beutler at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX. Dr Kolls was recruited in July 2003 to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he was Division Chief of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine and named the inaugural Niels K Jerne Professor Pediatrics and Immunology in 2007. Dr. Kolls has been member of the American Thoracic Society since 1989.  He is also a member of the American Association of Immunology, American Society of Microbiology, American Society of Clinical Investigation, and the Association of American Physicians.  Dr. Kolls has authored or co-authored more than 250 peer-reviewed articles.  The major goal of Dr. Kolls’ research is to investigate mechanisms of mucosal host defenses in the lung in normal and immunocompromised hosts using genetic models. Presently, his lab is investigating how IL-23 and IL-17 and IL-22 regulate host defense against extracellular pathogens and epigenetic regulation of macrophage function. Additionally, he researches host susceptibility to opportunistic infection such as Pneumocystis and is developing novel therapies against this pathogen.   Dr. Kolls has been co-Chair and Chair of the Gordon Conference on the biology of Acute Respiratory Infection and has co-organized a Keystone symposia on Th17 cells and Asthma and COPD.

Guixiang Dai, PhD
Instructor of Medicine

The current research is focused on the mechanisms by which CD4+ T cells mediate innate and immune responses against Pneumocystis infection. Human Dendritic Cell-specific ICAM-3 Grabbing Non-integrin (DC-SIGN)/CD209 is a transmembrane protein. Its extracellular region contains a Ca2+-dependent carbohydrate-binding lectin domain (1).The DC-SIGN/CD209 lectin domain binds mannose oligosaccharides on pathogens including Pneumocystis. DC-SIGN/ CD209 is expressed on dendritic cells (DC) and inflammatory macrophages and contributes to antigen presentation (2, 3). Preliminary data show that intact STAT3 expression in CD4+ T cells is associated with higher CD209E expression in the lung and IL-21R and STAT3 signaling in CD4+ T cells is essential for clearance/control of Pneumocystis infection. The ongoing experiments are designed to serve the following purposes:

  1. Test the prediction that if IL-21R and STAT3 are required for fungal clearance as well as T-cell priming, proliferation and homing to the lung during Pneumocystis infection.
  2. Test the prediction that IL-21R and STAT3 control GM-CSF production which is critical for recruitment and activation of fungicidal macrophages and fungal clearance.
  3. Test the prediction that CD4+ T cells and IL-21R signaling regulate and recruit dendritic cells and fungicidal macrophages that express GM-CSF and c-type lectin receptors, namely CD209 and Dectin-1, which bind and internalize fungi.
  1. Curtis, B.M. et al. (1992) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 89:8356.
  2. Geijtenbeek, T.B. et al. (2000) Cell 100:575.
  3. Garcia-Vallejo, J.J. and Y. van Kooyk (2013) Trends Immunol. 34:482.
Yasuka Matsunaga, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Yasuka Matsunaga earned her Ph.D. degree at the Hiroshima University in Japan. After, she worked as postdoctoral fellow at Hiroshima University.  Presently she is postdoctoral fellow working in Dr. Kolls’s Lab. Her research focuses on the IL22-IL22RA axis immunity in the gastrointestinal tract using Citrobacter rodentium infection as a model of colitis.  Dr. Matsunaga is also studying regulation and function of the human IL22 binding protein (IL22BP). Her research is expected to lead elucidation of the role of the gut-liver axis in host defense against infection.