College of Veterinary Medicine
Iowa State University
Graduate Group: Cell and Molecular Biology
Thesis Topic: Defensin expression in the human small intestine: A study of the human defensin family
Dr. Jones studies Leishmania amazonesis, a disease that can have a variety of symptoms from skin ulcers and organ disease to facial disfigurations and immune system malfunctions. Current studies examine the role of the parasite in inhibiting IL-12 production, and determining what host factors influence the IL-12 responsiveness of the CD4+ T cell response during L. amazonesis infection. The long-term goal of this work is to determine how the paraiste inhibits the development of an effective cell-mediated immune response in the presence of high parasite numbers. The understanding will lead to methods of immunmodulation that can be used for vaccination strategies or alter the host immune response in the presence of chronic infection. The principles of immune evasion that these parasites employ are probably not unique to Leishmania and will be applicable to other pathogens of chronic infectious diseases, such as mycobacteria. Dr. Jones is also examining noval vaccine modalities via immunologic and engineering technology.