Jessy J. Alexander PhD

Jessy Alexander

Jessy J. Alexander
PhD

Research Professor

Department of Medicine

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences


Specialty/Research Focus

Autoimmunity; Gene Expression; Immunology; Molecular Basis of Disease; Neurobiology; Regulation of metabolism

Contact Information
875 Ellicott Street
CTRC, 8030D
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: 716-888-4852
jessyale@buffalo.edu



Professional Summary:

RESEARCH: My scientific journey began with an interest in metabolism and hepatic encephalopathy where we demonstrated for the first time that it was not ammonia per se but glutamine that was the culprit in this setting. I subsequently transitioned to 'complement in kidney and brain'. My research consists of two arms, kidney and brain during chronic and acute diseases such as glomerulonephritis, sepsis and lupus. Both the organs contain specialized filtration units, the glomeruli and blood-brain barrier respectively. The focus of my lab is aimed at understanding the role of the complement cascade, an important arm of the innate immune systems in health and disease. The complement system forms the fulcrum, where the two arms of the lab, kidney and brain, collide. Recently, our understanding of the immune system has undergone a substantial paradigm shift: researchers now recognize that the innate immune system, the body’s first line of defense, assesses the level of danger of a particular event and initiates an adaptive immune response that subsequently confers protection. The complement system participates in forming the link between the adaptive and innate immune systems.
We made a couple of novel findings in the field: (a) CR1 on RBCs is the immune adherence receptor (IAR) in humans while the rodent IAR remained unknown. To fill this lacuna was very important since animal models are critical to understand the underlying mechanisms in disease. For the first time, our work showed that complement factor H (FH) is the IAR in rodents (J Biol Chem. 276(34):32129-35); (b)Traditionally the complement proteins such as FH were thought to be generated by the liver. More recently, for the first time our work has shown that FH is generated intracellularly in kidney endothelial cells and is of functional relevance (Kidney International, in press, 2021). At present, using novel animal models that we have generated, we are studying the role of FH at the different locale and its implications in health and disease. On receiving the Fulbright fellowship, I have begun studying the lupus microbiome in collaboration with Christian Medical College, Vellore, India. For many of the kidney and brain diseases, an effective therapy remains an enigma. Using a gamut of techniques, including novel animal and in vitro models, we are attempting to define the molecular mechanisms involved in disease and the resulting behavioral aberrations. Once molecular targets are identified, therapeutic strategies will be defined.
TEACHING & MENTORSHIP: My student interactions include teaching in UB’s Discovery Seminar Program, which is geared for first- and second-year undergraduates; conducting workshops for undergraduates and PhD students through CLIMB; and mentoring students through the CLIMB-PRO and CSTEP programs. For the first time, I have initiated a course for undergraduates by the Department of Medicine, that will give them insights into the exciting research that is ongoing in the department. I will also teach a cell biology course in Fall 2021. My mentees include medical students, premeds, those that joined curious to gain insight into biology and have continued for research in Carver School of Medicine, Iowa and graduate students that have proceeded for research at the NIH. My teaching portfolio also includes going out into the community and teaching in the community colleges.
PEER RECOGNITION: I have been invited to present my work at meetings and at local, national and international institutions. I am a member of grant review boards for several organizations, local, national and international, including serving as a Chair for the international and american grant review committees of the American Association of University Women, USA and as a NIH standing study section member. I have chaired sessions at the American Association of Immunology, American Society of Neurochemistry and the International Society of Neurochemistry. I have received awards of recognition from local, national and international organizations.

Education and Training:

  • PhD, Biochemistry, University of Hyderabad (1990)
  • MS, Science with Zoology, Osmania University (1982)

Employment:

  • Adjunct Faculty, Eerie Community College (2017-present)
  • Adjunct Faculty, Trocaire (2016-present)
  • Member, Neuroscience Program, University at Buffalo (2016-present)
  • Adjunct Faculty, Erie County Community College (2017-present)
  • Graduate Faculty, Medicine, University at Buffalo (2017-present)
  • Adjunct Faculty, Trocaire College (2016-present)
  • Member, Neuroscience Program, University at Buffalo School of Health Related Professions (2016-present)
  • Research Professor, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo (2015-present)
  • Faculty, Discovery seminar series, UB (2014–2016)
  • Research Associate Professor, Medicine, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (2013–2014)
  • Adjunct Faculty, East-West University (2013)
  • Adjunct Faculty, East-West college (2012–2013)
  • Adjunct Faculty, DePaul University (2011–2013)
  • Research Associate Professor, Medicine, The University of Chicago (2008–2013)
  • Adjunct Faculty, Molecular Nutrition, University of Chicago (2011)
  • Adjunct Faculty, Depaul University (2010–2011)
  • Research Assistant Professor, Medicine, The University of Chicago (2000–2008)
  • Research Associate, Medicine, The University of Chicago (1998–2000)
  • Fellow, Nephrology, The University of Chicago (1995–1998)
  • Research Associate, Pediatrics, The University of Chicago (1991–1994)
  • Post Doctoral Fellow, Dept. of Physiology & Biophysiology, The University of Chicago (1988–1991)
See all (11 more)

Awards and Honors:

  • 2021 Lab grant (2021)
  • Excellence in Immunology (2019)
  • Faculty Award of Excellence for promoting inclusion and cultural diversity (2019)
  • Fulbright Scholar (2019)
  • Manuscript published in Cellular and Molecular Immunology (2018)
  • SUNY award ‘Conversations in the Disciplines’ (2017)
  • Article chosen for cover page (2015)
  • Article chosen for cover page (2014)
  • Lupus Research Update (2006)
  • MPGN Type II Focus Group: Towards a Cure, UK (2006)
  • Paper in Inaugural Issue of Fast Track Manuscripts, JASN (2004)
  • Abstract chosen by the American Society of Nephrology (2004)
  • Certificate for Original Research, Neuroscience Program Committee, Chicago Medical School (1992)
  • ICMR travel award (1990)
  • American Society of Neurochemistry Travel Award (1989)
  • Chosen as “highlights from literature”: Hyperammonemia causes many changes found after portacaval shunting, Biochem. J., 272:311-317, by Cerebrovascular and Brain Metabolism Reviews (1989)
  • SS Parmer Foundation Award (1986)
  • Senior Research Fellowship, CSIR, India (1984)
  • Junior Research Fellowship, CSIR, India (1982)
  • National Merit Scholarship (1975)

Research Expertise:

  • Experimental renal inflammation
  • Neuropsychiatric lupus
  • Pathobiology of the complement system

Research Centers:

  • Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC)

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • July 2018–July 2021
    NIH R01
    National Institute of Health
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $717,750
  • January 2018–December 2018
    American Hearing Research Foundation
    American Hearing Research Foundation
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $20,000
  • January 2018–April 2018
    course infusion award
    University at Buffalo
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $785
  • October 2002–December 2011
    Kidneed Foundation
    Kidneed Foundation
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $250,000
  • January 1999–January 2001
    Arthritis Foundation
    Arthritis Foundation
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $90,000
  • March 1992–March 1994
    Omega oxidation and Reyes syndrome.
    NIH
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $50,000

Journal Articles:

See all (66 more)

Books and Book Chapters:

  • Chang A., P. Kadambi and J. J. Alexander. (2006) Encyclopedic Reference of Molecular Mechanisms of Disease. In: Membranoproliferative Glomerulonephritis. Springer Verlag
  • Alexander JJ and Hawkins R. (1994) In Hepatic Encephalopathy, Hyperammonemia and Ammonia toxicity. In: Neomycin Reduces the Metabolic Ability of the Small Intestine to Produce Ammonia from Glutamine. Plenum Press
  • Alexander JJ. (1989) .Hepatic Encephalopathy. In: Acute Action of Ammonia on Leucine Metabolism in Isolated Astrocytes, Neurons and Oligocells of Rat Brain. Humana Press
  • Alexander JJ. (1989) In: Cellular and Subcellular Branched-chain Keto Acid Decarboxylase in Rat Brain and its Response to Hyperammonemia.
  • Alexander JJ and Murthy RK. (1987) Biochemical Pathology of Astrocytes. In: Cerebral Cellular Branched-chain Amino Acid Transaminases in Hyperammonemia. Alan R.Liss.
  • Alexander JJ and Murthy RK. (1987) In Biochemical Pathology of Astrocytes. In: Acute Effects of Ammonia on the Metabolism of Isolated and Cultured Astrocytes. Alan R. Liss

Professional Memberships:

  • International Society of Neurochemistry (2014–present)
  • American Association of Immunologists (2010–present)
  • American Society of Clinical Investigation (2009–present)
  • Complement Society (2005–present)

Presentations:

  • "“Complement factor H: A story unfolding”." Seminar, Kidney diseases branch, NIH (2021)
  • "“Complement and the kidney.”" Seminar, Department of Immunology & Microbiology, (2020)
  • "“Complement and the kidney.”" Department of Immunology & Microbiology, University of Pittsburg, PA. (2020)
  • "“Complement and blood-brain barrier integrity.”" International Society of Neurochemistry/American Society of Neurochemistry (2019)
  • "“Complement in health and disease”" Fulbright lecture series, GITAM University (2019)
  • "“Understanding the role of complement in CNS lupus towards personalized medicine and drug development”" 5th Meeting on Precision Medicine (2019)
  • "C5a/C5aR1 signaling alters blood-brain barrier integrity and brain function in systemic lupus erythematosus" European complement-based Drug development summit (2018)
  • "Specific Targeting of Complement Pathways for Clinical Benefit" American Association of Immunology; American Association of Immunology; Complement (2016)
  • "Unexpected Roles for Immune Signaling in the Healthy and Diseased Brain" American Society of Neurochemistry (2013)
  • "Complement in Hepatic Encephalopathy" I.S.H.E.N. 14th symposium on Hepatic Encephalopathy & Nitrogen metabolism. (2010)
  • "Distinct and separable role of FH in chimaeric mice" Dense Deposit Disease; Kidneeds/Wellcome Group (2008)
  • "The Complement Cascade: Yin-Yang in Neuroinflammation: Neuro-protection and degeneration" American Society of Neurochemistry (2008)
  • "Complement: Good and Bad" American Society of Neurochemistry (2004)
  • "Complement in the brain: New and exciting insights in an old arena of Immunology" American Society of Neurochemistry (2003)
See all (4 more)

Service Activities:

  • BDCN-E (04): Neurobiology of Brain Degenerative Disorders, Autoimmune Disea;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2019)
  • American Association of University Women; 2019-20 Research Publication Grant;; Grant Reviewer (2019–present)
  • Faculty Senate; Chair (2019)
  • NIH; Hypersensitivity, Autoimmunity & Immunity Study Section III;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2019–present)
  • NIH; Innate Immunity Study Section III;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2019–present)
  • American Association of University Women, Research Publication Grant in Eng;; Panel Member (2019–present)
  • Faculty senate elections committee; Chair (2018–2020)
  • Faculty senate Bylaws committee; Member (2018–2020)
  • BDCN-E (04): Neurobiology of Brain Degenerative Disorders, Autoimmune Disea;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2018–present)
  • Faculty Senate Elections Committee; Chair (2018–2020)
  • Faculty Senate Bylaws Committee; Member (2018–2020)
  • American Association of University Women;; Grant Reviewer (2018–2019)
  • Search committee for Center for Diversity Innovation Director; Member (2018)
  • NIH; Special Emphasis Panel ZRG1 VH-N 80 A, Vascular and Hematology;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2018–present)
  • Wellcome Research Foundation; Wellcome Research Foundation, UK;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2018–present)
  • University of Sharjah, UAE;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2018–present)
  • German Research Foundation;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2018–present)
  • NIH; Anonymization Study by CSR;; Grant Reviewer (2018–present)
  • Steering Committee to Study Promotion and Professional Development of Faculty in Qualified Ranks; Member (2018–present)
  • Ad hoc panel for promotions in Research track; Univ. at Buffalo; Chair (2017–2019)
  • Faculty Senate; Secretary (2017–2020)
  • MRC; MRC England;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2017–present)
  • Ad Hoc Committee on Promotions to Research Ranks; Chair (2017–present)
  • Ad hoc panel for promotions in Research track; Univ. at Buffalo; Member (2016–2017)
  • Faculty senate executive committee; Member (2016–2017)
  • Israel Science Foundation;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2016–present)
  • Faculty Senate; Member (2016–present)
  • CLIMB UP Mentor; Student Mentor (2015–2016)
  • MRC; MRC England;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2015–present)
  • CLIMB-PRO Mentoring of undergraduates during summer; Student Mentor (2014)
  • NIH; Innate Immunity III;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2014–2016)
  • Ad Hoc Panel for Promotions in Research Track; Member (2014–2016)
  • Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Oak Ridge Associated Universities;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2013–present)
  • Israel Board of Education; Israel Board of Education;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2012–present)
  • American Association of University Women, American Fellowships, Grant selec;; Chair (2010–2012)
  • Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, University of Chicago; Member (2009–2013)
  • American Association of University Women, International Fellowships, Grant;; Chair (2004–2006)
  • American Association of University Women, Nat. Science Subpanel of the In;; Chair (2003–present)

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Contact Information

875 Ellicott Street
CTRC, 8030D
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: 716-888-4852
jessyale@buffalo.edu