Carlos Javier Orihuela, Ph.D.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Carlos Javier Orihuela, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Orihuela received a B.S. in biology from Baylor University in 1996 and a Ph.D. in microbiology & immunology from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in 2001. Following a 4-year postdoctoral fellowship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, he became faculty in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. In 2015, Orihuela moved to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Microbiology.
Since graduate school, his research focus has been Streptococcus pneumoniae (Spn) disease progression: asymptomatic nasopharyngeal colonization → pneumonia → invasive disease. In obtaining a molecular understanding of this bacterium’s pathogenesis, he hopes to discover basic tenets of biology and identify new strategies for disease prevention or treatment. Most recently this includes exploring the molecular basis of cardiotoxicity during pneumonia, dissecting the anatomical-site specific gene expression of pneumococcal virulence determinants, identification of novel roles for pneumococcal surface proteins and examination of the age-related changes in alveolar macrophage function that enhance susceptibility to pneumonia in the elderly. Across all aspects of his research program, he strives to incorporate the most precise and powerful molecular tools and procedures. Today his laboratory is using isogenic marker-free Spn mutants and their genetically complemented controls, CRISPR-Cas9 gene-edited host cell lines, custom made transgenic mice and dual-species RNAseq for examination of host and bacterial gene expression in vivo. They regularly use Ingenuity Pathway Analysis and other bioinformatic analytical tools to uncover the biological significance in their ‘omics data. Over the course of his career, he has become proficient in the genetic manipulation of Spn and eukaryotic cells, protein expression and purification, flow cytometry, immunofluorescent and electron microscopy, and the use of a wide range of animal models pertaining to Spn disease. These tools and skills are an integral part of the research that goes on in his lab today.
Orihuela has been recognized with a number of fellowships and honors including the Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging.