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Ioannis Eleftherianos Faculty Member

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Research in my lab focuses on innate immunity, evolution of host-microbe interactions, microbial infection, microbiota and host defense, and aging of the immune response. We use a tripartite system consisting of three model organisms: an insect host, Drosophila; the parasitic nematode Heterorhabditis; and its symbiotic bacterium Photorhabdus, to investigate the molecular and evolutionary basis of insect immunity, bacterial symbiosis/pathogenicity and nematode parasitism, and to understand the basic principles of the complex interactions among these important biological processes. This system promises to reveal not only how pathogens evolve virulence, but also how two pathogens can synergize to exploit a common host. My lab is one out of very few groups in the world that explores host anti-nematode immunity using the genetic insect model Drosophila. We collaborate with research groups at GWU as well as with investigators at US and overseas academic institutes. Our research contributes significantly towards a better understanding of the host immune response against parasitic nematodes and their mutualistic bacteria, and is therefore important to researchers in parasitology, microbiology, immunology and also to those studying host-pathogen interactions. Prior to joining GWU, I performed postdoctoral research at the University of Bath (UK) and the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology (laboratory of Jules Hoffmann, 2011 Nobel Laureate in Physiology/Medicine - French National Center for Scientific Research and Louis Pasteur University - Strasbourg, France), where I investigated the interaction between host innate immune mechanisms and bacterial virulence factors as well as antiviral immune responses in Drosophila. I have published 95 peer-reviewed articles (research papers and reviews) in scientific journals. Work in my lab is funded by NIH and NSF and the total amount of external funding I have generated since I moved to GWU in January 2010 is $3,361,637. I act as editorial board member for four journals and as reviewer I have evaluated more that 250 articles. I also act as ad-hoc reviewer for grant proposal applications submitted to funding agencies in the US, Europe and Asia. I am a currently a member of eight scientific societies and an elected fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (FRES, UK). I teach three undergraduate courses (Molecular Biology, BISC 3209; Molecular Biology Lab, BISC 3208; Undergraduate Research, BISC 4171) and three graduate courses (Host Microbe Interactions, BISC 6219; Advanced Reading and Research, BISC 8998; Current Topics in Cell/Molecular Biology, BISC 6205). The Molecular Biology and Host-Microbe Interactions courses achieve high scores in annual student evaluations. The Molecular Biology course is rated higher than the departmental average. Projects in my lab have provided research opportunities to four postdoctoral scientists, seven research assistants, six Ph.D. candidates, seven master’s student, 30 undergraduate research students, 13 high school students from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (Alexandria, Virginia), a visiting faculty from China, and two visiting PhD students from Strasbourg (France) and Stockholm (Sweden). Seven graduate students, 15 undergraduate students and four high school students have been included as co-authors in published papers or manuscripts that are currently submitted or in preparation for submission to journals. I have been awarded the CCAS Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Departmental Advising in 2013, the GWU Research Enhancement Incentive Award in 2015-2019 and 2020, an Award for outstanding service as an online mentor of the American Society for Microbiology Minority Mentoring Program in 2012, and eight Mentorship Awards for contribution to research training and advising of high school students from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in 2013- 2020. My service to great DC community involves the educational partnership between my lab and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (Alexandria, VA). This program involves recruitment of high school students in my lab to participate in hands-on research on infection, innate immunity and host-pathogen interactions. I am also responsible for co-organizing the Local DC Comparative Immunology Meetings that take place annually at GWU.

Research Areas

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