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Joao H.F. Pedra, PhD

Academic Title:


Primary Appointment:

Microbiology and Immunology

Administrative Title:

Director of Faculty Mentoring


685 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

Phone (Primary):




Education and Training

1998                B.Sc., Biological Sciences, Universidade Federal de Vicosa, Brazil

2000                M.Sc., Agricultural Chemistry, Universidade Federal de Vicosa, Brazil       

2004                Ph.D., Entomology, Purdue University, Mentor: Barry R. Pittendrigh

2004 - 2007     Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Yale University School of Medicine, Mentor: Erol Fikrig, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

2007 - 2009     Associate Research Scientist, Yale University School of Medicine, Mentor: Erol Fikrig, Howard Hughes Medical Institute


I completed my college and Master of Science degrees in Biology and Chemistry in Brazil. Then, I immigrated to the United States and received a doctoral degree in Entomology at Purdue University where I was mentored by Dr. Barry Pittendrigh (currently at Michigan State University). My post-doctoral training was focused on microbial pathogenesis and immunology at Yale University under the supervision of Dr. Erol Fikrig (Chief of Infectious Diseases/HHMI Investigator). In 2009, I joined the University of California at Riverside as an independent investigator. In 2013, I relocated to the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Medicine.

Research/Clinical Keywords

Tick-borne diseases; innate immunity

Highlighted Publications


p47 licenses activation of the immune deficiency pathway in the tick Ixodes scapularis. McClure Carroll EE, Wang X, Shaw DK, O'Neal AJ, Oliva Chávez AS, Brown LJ, Boradia VM, Hammond HL, Pedra JHF. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Jan 2;116(1):205-210. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1808905116. 


Vector immunity and evolutionary ecology: the harmonious dissonance. Shaw DK, Tate AT, Schneider DS, Levashina EA, Kagan JC, Pal U, Fikrig E, Pedra JHF. Trends Immunol. 2018 Nov;39(11):862-873. doi: 10.1016/


Engineering of obligate intracellular bacteria, challenges and paradigms. McClure EE, Chávez ASO, Shaw DK, Carlyon JA, Ganta RR, Noh SM, Wood DO, Bavoil PM, Brayton KA, Martinez JJ, McBride JW, Valdivia RH, Munderloh UG, Pedra JHF. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 2017 Jun 19. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro.2017.59.


Infection-derived lipids elicit an immune deficiency circuit in arthropods. Shaw DK, Wang X, Brown LJ, Chávez AS, Reif KE, Smith AA, Scott AJ, McClure EE, Boradia VM, Hammond HL, Sundberg EJ, Snyder GA, Liu L, DePonte K, Villar M, Ueti MW, de la Fuente J, Ernst RK, Pal U, Fikrig E, Pedra JHF. Nature Communications 2017 8:14401.


The prostaglandin E2-EP3 receptor axis regulates Anaplasma phagocytophilum-mediated NLRC4 inflammasome activation. Wang X, Shaw DK, Hammond HL, Sutterwala FS, Rayamajhi M, Shirey KA, Perkins DJ, Bonventre JV, Velayutham TS, Evans SM, Rodino KG, VieBrock L, Scanlon KM, Carbonetti NH, Carlyon JA, Miao EA, McBride JW, Kotsyfakis M, Pedra JHF. PLoS Pathogens 2016 12(8):e1005803 


The tick protein sialostatin L2 binds to Annexin A2 and inhibits NLRC4-mediated inflammasome activation. Wang X, Shaw DK, Sakhon OS, Snyder GA, Sundberg EJ, Santambrogio L, Sutterwala FS, Dumler JS, Shirey KA, Perkins DJ, Richard K, Chagas AC, Calvo E, Kopecký J, Kotsyfakis M, Pedra JHF. Infection and Immunity 2016 84(6):1796-805.


Genomic insights into the parasitic vector of Lyme disease, Ixodes scapularis. Ixodes scapularis International Consortium. Nature Communications, 2016 7:10507 

Research Interests

The Tick Immune System

The increase in knowledge observed for arthropod-pathogen interactions in the past decade can be directly correlated to the availability of multiple sequenced insect genomes. Comparative genomics analysis coupled to functional assays uncovered evolutionarily conserved signaling pathways and provided important insights towards the understanding of insect immunity. However, extrapolating this approach to non-insect arthropods, such as the tick Ixodes scapularis, sometimes constitutes a problem because of the lack of distinguishable protein homologues and incorrect annotation of genes due to low sequence coverage or incompleteness of a particular genome. We are studying the non-canonical immune deficiency (IMD) signaling pathway of the Lyme disease tick I. scapularis. We are characterizing this signaling relay based on biochemical, molecular and structural biology information. This novel immune pathway in ticks has broad implications for the arthropod biology community.


Awards and Affiliations

2006-2007       Brown-Coxe Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Yale University

2007-2011       Mentored Public Health Research Scientist Development Award (K01), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



2006-present   General Member, American Society for Rickettsiology

2011-present   General Member, American Society for Microbiology

2011-present   General Member, American Association of Immunologists


In the News



Links of Interest