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Biology alumnus focuses his work on vaccine development and host-pathogen interactions

February 10, 2012

Juan Calix ‘05 recently co-authored a major article in Clinical Infectious Diseases, a leading journal in the field of infectious disease with a broad international readership. The article focused on the evolution of the significant human pathogen, streptococcus pneumoniae, in response to different environments within the host.

Calix, currently pursuing his doctorate at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Scientist Training Program, is working in the laboratory of pathologist Moon Nahm, M.D. Their work focuses on describing the interaction between bacterial capsule polysaccharides and host recognition molecules in the blood. Streptococcus pneumoniae produces a capsule that protects it from the human immune system, and this same capsule is targeted by current vaccines. Understanding how capsule structures influence the survival of the bacterium is crucial in the development of effective interventions.

Calix, a prolific publisher whose work often concentrates on equal access to health care for minorities, is also on the board of directors of a student-run free clinic. He plans to continue his career in academic medicine in pediatric infectious diseases, focusing on vaccine development and host-pathogen interactions.

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