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Abdu F. Azad, PharmD, PhD, MPH

Academic Title:


Primary Appointment:

Microbiology and Immunology


HSF II, 433

Phone (Primary):

(410) 706-3335


(410) 706-0282

Education and Training

University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran, Pharm. D., Pharmacy, 1966

University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran., MPH, Public Health/Inf. Dis., 1970

The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Ph.D., Parasitology, 1976


Dr. Azad’s multi-disciplinary scientific expertise spans over thirty years of experience studying microbial pathogenesis and the hosts’ responses to strict obligate intracellular bacterial and parasitic infections. As a graduate student at Johns Hopkins, his research was focused on the biology and ecology of a hepatic nematode, Capillaria hepatica parasitism in the commensal rat, Rattus norvegicus in which developmentally-arrested parasite eggs are trapped in the host’s liver and the death of the host either by being eaten or dying and decomposing is required for completion of the parasite life cycle. His work identified the biological attributes of exit mechanisms by which C. hepatica perpetuate in nature. Since 1980s, the focus of Dr. Azad’s laboratory research was to decipher the molecular and cellular basis by which rickettsiae invade eukaryotic host cells and evade ensuing host immune responses.  His research on the identification ofmolecules associated with rickettsial infection has resulted in the functional characterization of several flea and tick immune-responsive molecules and the characterization and functional analysis of Rickettsia typhi surface cell antigen or autotransporter family, phospholipases, and ankyrin repeat-containing proteins. His long-term research primarily has been continuously funded by the NIAID/NIH. Dr. Azad past and ongoing work on the cell biology of vector-borne pathogens has supported research carried out by 14 Ph.D students and over 30 postdoctoral fellows. Because of his scientific achievement, he has been honored with a MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health; Elected as Fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology and American Association for the Advancement of Sciences; recipient of the ASTMH Harry Hoogstraal Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Medical Entomology; served as President of the American Society for Rickettsiology; served on the NIAID/NIH Blue Ribbon Panel on Bioterrorism and its Implications for Biomedical Research, and the Biodefense Research Agenda of the NIAID and Reorganization of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Study Sections; and served as Chair, member and ad hoc reviewer for Study Sections of the National Institutes of Health.

Research/Clinical Keywords

Molecular and Cellular biology of rickettsial pathogens, Rickettsia Pathogenesis, Host pathogen Interactions, Arthropod innate immunity to rickettsial pathogens, Vector biology and control.

Highlighted Publications

Azad, AF, Traub, R. Baqar, S. Transovarial transmission of murine typhus rickettsiae in Xenopsylla cheopis fleas. (1985)  Science; 227: 543-5.

Scheller, L.F., Azad, A.F.  (1995)  Maintenance of protective immunity against malaria by persistent hepatic parasites derived from irradiated sporozoites.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 92: 4066-8.

Lal, A.A., Patterson, P.S., Sacci, J.B., Vaughan, J.A., Paul, C., Collins, W.E., Wirtz, R.A., Azad, A.F. (2001). Anti-mosquito midgut antibodies block development of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax in multiple species of Anopheles mosquitoes and reduce vector fecundity and survivorship. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98: 5228-33.

Rahman M.S., Gillespie, J.J., Kaur**, S., Sears*, K.T., Ceraul, S.M., Beier-Sexton, M., Azad, A.F.  (2013) Rickettsia typhi possesses phospholipase A2 enzymes that are involved in infection of host cellsPLoS Pathogens: 9(6):e1003399.

Rennoll-Bankert, K., Rahman, M.S., Gillespie, J.J., Guillotte, M.L., Kaur, S.J., Lehman, S.S., Beier-Sexton, M., Azad, A.F.  (2015)  Which Way In? The RalF Arf-GEF Orchestrates Rickettsia Host Cell InvasionPLoS Pathog. 11: e1005115.

Gillespie, J.J., Phan IQ, Scheib H, Subramanian, S., Edwards, T.E., Lehman, S.S., Piitulainen, H., Rahman, M.S., Rennoll-Bankert, K., Staker, B.L., Taira, S., Stacy, R., Myler, P.J., Azad, A.F., & Pulliainen, A.T.  (2015)  Structural Insight into How Bacteria Prevent Interference between Multiple Divergent Type IV Secretion SystemsMBio 6: e01867-15.

Additional Publication Citations

Dr. Azad's publications and related information can be found on the following web site: