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A Collaborative & Diverse Group

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Chair of the Board of Directors

With a degree from Johns Hopkins University and an MD degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dr. Chang performed her Infectious Disease Fellowship and research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Chang was an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Louisiana State University Medical Center before entering private practice at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla. She received training in fungal pathogenesis from Dr. Bruce Klein, has worked on cerebral malaria, and is currently investigating drug resistance in Acinetobacter baumanii, a highly drug-resistant gram negative bacteria.

Dr. Chang is currently investigating drug resistance in Acinetobacter baumanii, a highly drug-resistant gram negative bacterium. Acinetobacter baumanii is an emergent organism that is a threat to patients in intensive care units and is difficult to treat with current antibiotics. She is also collaborating with Dr. van der Heyde on potential adjunctive therapies for cerebral malaria based on restoration of nitric oxide bioavailability during cerebral malaria.

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Dr. Carson graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1954, and completed his internship, medical residency, and cardiovascular fellowship there. He is board certified in Internal Medicine. He has been in private practice at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla since 1960 and is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California San Diego. Dr. Carson provides needed clinical expertise to the institute and provides assistance with fund raising through his connections with the San Diego/La Jolla community.

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Director and Professor

Upon graduating with high distinction from the University of Liege's School of Medicine and completing his residency in Internal Medicine at Hospital Universitaire de Bavier in Liege, Dr. Grau accomplished his post doctoral fellowship at the Institute de Pathologie Cellulaire at the Hopital du Kremlin-Bicetre in Paris, France. He has since steadily risen through the academic ranks at the University of Geneva where he worked for 17 years. Dr. Grau is currently Professor and Chair of Vascular Immunology, Department of Pathology at the University of Sydney and Professor at the La Jolla Infectious Diseases Institute. Dr. Grau is the recipient of several prizes and is a world renowned expert in the cerebral and pulmonary complications of infectious diseases, especially cerebral malaria and septic shock.

Dr. Grau has played a leading role in developing the experimental cerebral malaria mouse model for the past 30 years. This model has elucidated critical pathogenic pathways. He has also developed in vitro models of the brain and lung endothelium and complex models of endothelial dysfunction during malaria and sepsis. His coculture system investigates the complex interactions between blood cells (erythrocytes, parasitized erythrocytes, platelets, leukocytes) and the activated endothelium. His research has identified that platelets are a major bridge between parasitized erythrocytes and the endothelium.

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Dr. van der Heyde completed his PhD at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and his post doctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was an Assistant Professor of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at Louisiana State University Medical Center. After a brief stint in biotech, Dr. van der Heyde was an Associate Professor then Professor at La Jolla Bioengineering Institute and is now Professor at the La Jolla Infectious Disease Institute. His expertise is in the immunology of malaria and microvascular dysfunction in the brain leading to malaria pathogenesis.

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Assistant Professor

Dr. Combes has a long track record on elucidating the function of cell-derived microparticles in biology and pathogenesis. In a seminal J. Clin. Invest. Paper, she detailed the release of microparticles from activated platelets and their ability to activate the coagulation cascade. She has worked extensively with Dr. Grau on defining the essential contribution of microparticles to cerebral malaria pathogenesis, and more recently in cancer formation.

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Assistant Professor

Dr. Gramaglia is an immunologist who has extensive experience with experimental severe malaria, both cerebral and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Her research focuses on the immune response to Plasmodium with the overall goal of identifying the key components of protective immunity. Her research also focuses on the role of nitric oxide in malaria pathogenesis, identifying the cellular and molecular mechanisms whereby low nitric oxide leads to brain and lung pathology. Dr. Gramaglia collaborates with Dr. Grau on lung pathogenesis and both Dr. Grau and Dr. van der Heyde on cerebral pathogenesis.

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Dr. van der Heyde's research focuses on microvascular dysfunction during malaria. Specifically, his research is focused on determining the pathogenic role of platelets in cerebral malaria. While it is widely recognized that coagulopathy occurs during malaria, its precise role remains to be determined; his research has identified an early role for platelets in the activation of the pathogenic host response. Dr. van der Heyde has developed a microsphere array system for measuring the affinity of antibodies and is determining the importance of antibody affinity in eliciting protective immunity against Plasmodium.



Dr. Bjursten is an internationally recognized expert in biomaterials and the foreign body reaction elicited by surgically implanted biomaterials. He has proposed that the outstanding in vivo compatibility of titanium is due to its ability to react with free radicals during the foreign body reaction. Under certain conditions, the titanium may amplify the generation of free radicals by leukocytes that then kill bacteria in close proximity to the biomaterial.


View recent publications here.

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Personnel: Lab Members
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