Labs/Faculty: Dr. Salazar’s Lab

Juan C. Salazar, M.D., M.P.H.
Photo of Juan C. Salazar, M.D., M.P.H.
Connecticut Children's Medical Center

Dr. Salazar is associate professor in pediatrics at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, and director of the Pediatric and Youth HIV Program at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Salazar joined the full time faculty at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Pediatrics in November of 1998. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society, the HIV Medical Association and the Hartford and Connecticut State Medical Societies.

Dr. Salazar graduated from Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia in 1986. He completed his residency in pediatrics at the University of Connecticut in 1992 and a fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1995. He obtained a Masters Degree in public health/epidemiology from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in 1995. Dr. Salazar is board-certified in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases and is a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Salazar joined the Department of Pediatrics at UConn Health in 1998. He obtained a career mentor K-23 award in 2002, with Dr. Radolf as his primary mentor.

Dr. Salazar’s basic translational research interest includes the analysis of the immunologic interactions between syphilis and HIV and the pathogenesis of spirochetal diseases including Lyme disease. Dr. Salazar is NIH funded to (1) conduct a translational study of syphilis in Colombia and (2) to assess the role of the innate immune responses in humans to Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. He has been the principal investigator for a variety of pharmaceutical industry sponsored clinical trials, including childhood vaccines and antibiotics. He has authored and co-authored over 60 papers and book chapters.

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Jorge L. Cervantes, M.D., Ph.D.
Photo of Jorge L. Cervantes, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Cervantes received his M.D. degree from the Cayetano Heredia University in Lima Peru in 1998. He attended training on research in tropical medicine in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1999, and worked in the dengue surveillance project conducted by the U.S. Naval Medical Research Detachment in the Peruvian Amazon in 2000. In 2003, he completed a Ph.D. degree in Medical Science (Virology) from Kagoshima University in Japan, where he published several papers on HLA and Human Papillomavirus. He then worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Infectious Diseases at Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, in Hamamatsu, Japan under a Center of Excellence (COE) program, focusing on cell death and innate immunity to intracellular pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenes. In July of 2009 he joined the Salazar laboratory as a postdoctoral research fellow and is now studying innate immunity aspects of human phagocytic cells to Borrelia burgdorferi.

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Adriana R. Cruz, M.D.
Photo of Adriana R. Cruz, M.D.

Dr. Cruz obtained her M.D. from the Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia and where she also completed a residency in dermatology. She began her syphilis research career as the clinical coordinator for Drs. Salazar and Radolf’s NIH-sponsored study of cutaneous immune responses to Tp in Cali patients with secondary syphilis[5]. In 2006 and 2007 she moved to the United States where she worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Radolf laboratory (2006-07). While in the Radolf laboratory Dr. Cruz helped develop a powerful ex vivo PBMC model which established the critical role of opsonophagocytosis of Tp as a driver of innate immune activation during human syphilis[6,7]. Following completion of her fellowship, Dr. Cruz returned to Colombia to serve as the site PI at CIDEIM for Dr. Salazar’s NIH Fogarty-sponsored secondary syphilis project. Dr. Cruz has received additional funding to do syphilis research from the Colombian National Institutes of Health. To complete these studies, Dr. Cruz and Dr. Salazar have formed a secondary syphilis patient physician recruitment network. Dr. Cruz has partnered with members of the Cali Health Department to assess the extent of the acquired and congenital syphilis problem in that locale and develop more effective interventional strategies. The combined results of the translational syphilis activities have been presented at several international scientific meetings, including an oral presentation by Dr. Cruz at the 2010 Gordon Conference for Spirochetal Biology[8].

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Kelly L. Hawley, Ph.D.
Photo of Kelly L. Hawley, Ph.D.

Kelly L. Hawley obtained her B.S. degree in Veterinary and Animal Sciences from the University of Massachusetts in 2009.  In September of 2012, she received her Ph.D. degree in Animal Biotechnology and Biomedical Sciences from the University of Massachusetts.  Her dissertation research investigated the molecular mechanisms that regulate Complement Receptor 3-mediated phagocytosis of B. burgdorferi. She is the recipient of the Snoeyenboes Research Award. Her postdoctoral research focuses on macrophage-T. pallidum interactions ex vivo to understand the paradox of human syphilis.

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Carson Karanian
Photo of Juan C. Salazar, M.D., M.P.H.

Ms. Karanian obtained a bachelor's degree in general science with an environmental studies track in 1995 from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. She previously worked as a laboratory assistant at Pfizer in New London, Connecticut. Since 2003, she has worked as a research assistant II/lab manager in the Spirochete Research Laboratories. She is an expert in T. pallidium rabbit passaging, Borrelia burgdorferi culture, human and murine flow cytometry, epifluorescent and confocal microscopy, human monocyte and murine macrophage ex vivo stimulation techniques and a variety of molecular techniques.

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Tom Kiely, R.N.C.
Photo of Tom Kiely, R.N.C.

For the past 12 years, Tom has worked as a clinical researcher at the General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) and Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) at UConn Health. The first seven years he worked as an R.N. study coordinator, coordinating investigator-initiated and pharmaceutical sponsored clinical trials. During this time Tom was instrumental in LD patient and healthy volunteer enrollment into a variety of studies funded by Drs. Radolf and Salazar. On April 30, 2005 he assumed the nurse manager role of both of the GCRC and CTU; responsible for the administration, management, and evaluation of all patient care components of the General Clinical Research Center and the Clinical Trials Unit. He continues to oversee active protocols enrolling healthy volunteers for the Lyme disease and syphilis studies being conducted in the Spirochete Research Laboratories.

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Rodolfo Trujillo, M.D.
Photo of Rodolfo Trujillo, M.D.

Dr. Rodolfo Trujillo is a Colombian physician who completed his training in dermatology at the Universidad Del Valle, cali, Colombia in 1999. He worked in clinical and translational research during his dermatology training and for four years after his graduation as a principal investigator at the International Center for Medical Research and Training (CIDEIM), an institution focused on the investigation of infectious disease, located in Cali, Colombia. His research interests center around leishmaniasis, ectoparasitosis, Lyme disease and syphilis. Dr. Trujillo was a professor of dermatology at two Colombian universities, Universidad del Valle and Universidad Libre, and he was the editor in chief of the Colombian Journal of Dermatology from 2005 to 2006. In the Salazar lab, Dr. Trujillo is using immunohistochemical and molecular techniques to characterize