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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Curtis, B.M. et al. (1992) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 89:8356.
Geijtenbeek, T.B. et al. (2000) Cell 100:575.
Garcia-Vallejo, J.J. and Y. van Kooyk (2013) Trends Immunol. 34:482.

Christine M. Bojanowski, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Co-Director, Adult Cystic Fibrosis Program

After completing a National Institutes of Health Post-baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) fellowship with the Laboratory of Immunology, National Eye Institute, Dr. Bojanowski received her medical school training at George Washington University School of Medicine. She then completed a dual residency program in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center – New Orleans (LSUHSC-NO), followed by Adult Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She has board certified in Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Adult Pulmonary Disease and Adult Critical Care Medicine.  Dr. Bojanowski joined Tulane University as Assistant Professor in 2018.

While at UCSD, as an appointee to the institution’s T-32 training grant, her research focused on neutrophil biology and host response to electronic cigarette (E-cigarette) vapor exposure. A former Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science (LA CaTS) Roadmap Scholar (2019-2021), Dr. Bojanowski is a current recipient of the prestigious Gilead Research Scholar Award in Cystic Fibrosis and is a scholar of the Dean’s Faculty Physician-Scientist Pipeline Program. Her primary research interests are in lung immunology and host response to chronic sinopulmonary infections with important pathogens such as Staphylococcus Aureus and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa.

Janet McCombs, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine

Janet E. McCombs joined the Tulane University faculty as an Assistant Professor in August 2019. She earned her B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, after which she spent two years working for the Center for Eukaryotic Structural Genomics at UW as part of the protein purification pipeline. From there, Dr. McCombs went on to earn her PhD in biochemistry from the University of Colorado Boulder. While at CU, she worked with fluorescent sensors and live-cell microscopy to study abrogation in calcium signaling in both Alzheimer’s disease and Salmonella infection. Interested in pursuing research in bacterial pathogens, Dr. McCombs performed her postdoctoral work at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX where she developed methods to determine specific substrates of bacterial sialidases, allowing mechanistic insight into pathogenesis. She then joined the small biotech company Affinivax, located in Cambridge, MA, as a Scientist, where she worked on developing vaccines to various bacterial infections, including a pneumococcal vaccine currently in clinical trials. Within the CTRII, Dr. McCombs is establishing a translational research program in multidrug resistant bacteria focused on developing novel vaccines and immunotherapeutics, with an initial focus on Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Jerry Zifodya, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine 

Dr. Jerry Zifodya received his Medical Degree and a Master’s in Public Health & Tropical Medicine from Tulane. After medical school he moved to Nashville and completed Internship and Residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. After residency, he then moved to Seattle for clinical and research fellowship training in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Washington. Being from Zimbabwe, Dr. Zifodya has always had an interest in global health. As part of his research training, he was awarded a Fogarty Global Health Research Fellowship. He spent a year in Kisumu, Kenya engaging in research on the pulmonary and cardiovascular complications of HIV infection and tuberculosis. He joined Tulane faculty as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine in 2019.

Dr. Zifodya’s research interests are in chronic communicable and noncommunicable lung disease in a local and global setting. He is focused on chronic pulmonary complications of HIV including chronic sequela of tuberculosis particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Under Dr. Kolls mentorship he is evaluating sex differences, chronic inflammation, and transcriptomic changes associated with pulmonary and cardiovascular disease in Sub-Saharan Africa with a particular focus on people living with HIV.

Shigeki Saito, MD, MSCR
Associate Professor
Assistant Director of Tulane ILD Center
Co-Director of UMCNO PH Basic/Translational Research
UMCNO Assistant Director

Dr. Saito earned his medical degree at the University of Tokyo in Tokyo, Japan. Then he completed his residency in Internal Medicine at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Columbia University in New York. He completed his fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Tulane University and continued his subspecialty training in Pulmonary Vascular Diseases (Pulmonary Hypertension) at Stanford University in California. He joined the Tulane faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2012. He also obtained a degree in Master of Science in Clinical Research from Tulane University in 2016.

Dr. Saito is board certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, and Critical Care Medicine. He is a member of American Thoracic Society, European Respiratory Society, American Physiological Society, Pulmonary Hypertension Clinicians and Researchers (PHCR), and Pulmonary Vascular Research Institute (PVRI). His research and clinical interests include pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis, and acute lung injury.

Dr. Saito accepts referrals for patients with various kinds of pulmonary hypertension as well as interstitial lung diseases / pulmonary fibrosis. For information on how to set up a clinic appointment with Dr. Saito, please call 504-702-5057 (Ansanta Colle, RN at CPHC (www.umcno.org/cphc).

Dr. Saito also serves in the Comprehensive Pulmonary Hypertension Center (CPHC), and Interstitial Lung Disease Program. He is active as a Tulane Medical Center Member, and belongs to the Tulane Lung Biology Group.


Dong Lin, PhD
Instructor of Medicine