Jacques Robert, Ph.D.

Jacques Robert, Ph.D.

Contact Information

University of Rochester Medical Center
School of Medicine and Dentistry
601 Elmwood Ave, Box 672
Rochester, NY 14642

Research Bio


The overall goal of our research is to understand the co-evolutionary relationships between the structure of selected molecules (e.g., heat shock proteins [hsps], hsp-receptors [CD91], NK cell receptors [KIR, FcRs], non-classical class Ib molecules [XNCs]) and their functions in innate and adaptive immunity against tumors and viruses using the frog Xenopus laevis as animal model.

One specific research area addresses the postulated dual role of the hsps gp96 and hsp70 in immunity. The comparative tumor-immunity model developed in Xenopus provides an alternative to mice in order to explore the ability of hsps to generate responses against tumors that have down-regulated their MHC class Ia molecules thereby escaping immune surveillance. To better reveal the respective role of classical and non-classical MHC class I genes in immune surveillance and T cell development, we are developing transgenesis strategies to modulate their expression in vivo by RNAi knockdown and induced transgene expression.
A second area concerns phylogenetic history and biological significance several immune receptor gene families (e.g., KIR, FcR-like) that appear to regulate leukocyte functions through integration of inhibitory and activating signals, by genomic and genetic approaches based on the recently fully sequenced genome of the X. laevis sister species Silurana (Xenopus) tropicalis.
A third research area concerns basic comparative and applied studies of viral pathogenesis and immunity in amphibians caused by Poxvirus-like Iridoviruses such as Frog virus 3 (FV3). Because of the threat of emerging wildlife viral diseases on global biodiversity, fundamental research on comparative viral immunity has become crucial. We have established Xenopus as an important experimental model to study the host defense and the pathogenesis of Iridovirus infection, and evaluate the contribution of immunocompromised animals in the dissemination of the diseases. We are also developing a method to knockout (KO) putative virulence genes by site-specific integration of a selectable fluorescent marker into the FV3 genome. Susceptible Xenopus larvae provide an ideal model to evaluate the impact of KOs on in vivo virus load, host mortality and the induction of pro-inflammatory genes.

Xenopus laevis Research Resource for Immunology: The University of Rochester is home to the world's most comprehensive resource specializing in the use of the amphibian Xenopus laevis for immunological research. Several genetically-defined inbred strains and clones are available for study. The facility also maintains and develops research tools such as transgenic animals, monoclonal antibodies, cell lines, DNA libraries and molecular probes. The resource includes a satellite facility devoted to study infectious diseases caused by Iridovirus. The resource is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIAID).

Awards & Honors (Local)

Alumni Award Excellence in Postdoctoral Mentoring | University of Rochester Medical Center 2014
Excellence in Research | University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester 2013
Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Education of the University of Rochester Medical Center | Graduate Education of the University of Rochester Medical Center 2011
Provost's multidsciplinary award | University of Rochester 2009 - 2010
Excellence in Research Award | University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester 2007
Travel award | AAI | 11th International Congress of Immunology, Stockholm, Sweden 2001
Travel award | International Society of Developmental and Comparative Immunolog | 8th ISDCI Congress, Cairns, Australia 2000
Cum laude graduate | University of Geneva | Department of Animal Biology, (Switzerland) 1990

Recent Journal Articles

Showing the 5 most recent journal articles. 115 available »

2016 Aug
Edholm ES, Banach M, Robert J. "Evolution of innate-like T cells and their selection by MHC class I-like molecules." Immunogenetics. 2016 Aug; 68(8):525-36. Epub 2016 Jul 01.
2016 Jul 6
Robert J, Jancovich JK. "Recombinant Ranaviruses for Studying Evolution of Host-Pathogen Interactions in Ectothermic Vertebrates." Viruses. 2016 Jul 6; 8(7)Epub 2016 Jul 06.
2016 Jun 15
Banach M, Edholm ES, Robert J. "Exploring the functions of nonclassical MHC class Ib genes in Xenopus laevis by the CRISPR/Cas9 system." Developmental biology. 2016 Jun 15; Epub 2016 Jun 15.
2016 May
Grayfer L, Robert J. "Amphibian macrophage development and antiviral defenses." Developmental and comparative immunology. 2016 May; 58:60-7. Epub 2015 Dec 15.
2016 May
Barreda D, Robert J, Belosevic M. "Preface to the special issue "Hematopoiesis and immunity"." Developmental and comparative immunology. 2016 May; 58:A1. Epub 2016 Feb 03.

Current Appointments

Professor - Department of Microbiology and Immunology (SMD) - Primary
Professor - Department of Environmental Medicine (SMD)


PhD | Developmental Biology | Switzerland-Fac Sciences U Geneva1990
BA | Biology | Switzerland-Fac Sciences U Geneva1985

Post-Doctoral Training & Residency

Senior postdoctoral fellow, Department of Microbiology and Immunology University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry 1997
Postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Louis Du Pasquier & Member of the Basel Institute for Immunology. 1994
Postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Louis Du Pasquier & Member of the Basel Institute for Immunology. 1995
Teaching Assistant in Genetics, Cytogenetics and Embryology in the Department of Animal Biology University of Geneva. 1990
Predoctoral fellow with Dr. Hans Rudi Kobel, University of Geneva, Department of Animal Biology 1990