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Jacques Robert, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Office: (585) 275-1722

Research Labs

Faculty Appointments




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).



BA | Switzerland-Fac Sciences U Geneva

PhD | Switzerland-Fac Sciences U Geneva
Developmental Biology

Post-doctoral Training & Residency

1995 - 1997
Senior postdoctoral fellow, Department of Microbiology and Immunology University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

1993 - 1994
Postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Louis Du Pasquier & Member of the Basel Institute for Immunology.

1990 - 1995
Postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Louis Du Pasquier & Member of the Basel Institute for Immunology.

01/1985 - 1990
Teaching Assistant in Genetics, Cytogenetics and Embryology in the Department of Animal Biology University of Geneva.

1985 - 1990
Predoctoral fellow with Dr. Hans Rudi Kobel, University of Geneva, Department of Animal Biology

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2019 School of Medicine and Dentistry Trainee Academic Mentoring Award in Basic Science
Sponsor: University of Rochester Medical Center

Alumni Award Excellence in Postdoctoral Mentoring
Sponsor: University of Rochester Medical Center

Excellence in Research
Sponsor: University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester

Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Education of the University of Rochester Medical Center
Sponsor: Graduate Education of the University of Rochester Medical Center

2009 - 2010
Provost's multidisciplinary award
Location: University of Rochester

Excellence in Research Award
Location: University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester

Travel award
Sponsor: AAI
Location: 11th International Congress of Immunology, Stockholm, Sweden

Travel award
Sponsor: International Society of Developmental & Comparative Immunology
Location: 8th ISDCI Congress, Cairns, Australia

Cum laude graduate
Sponsor: University of Geneva
Location: Department of Animal Biology, (Switzerland)

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Journal Articles

Dimitrakopoulou D, Khwatenge CN, James-Zorn C, Paiola M, Bellin EW, Tian Y, Sundararaj N, Polak EJ, Grayfer L, Barnard D, Ohta Y, Horb M, Sang Y, Robert J. "Advances in the Xenopus immunome: Diversification, expansion, and contraction." Developmental and comparative immunology.. 2023 May 10; :104734. Epub 2023 May 10.

McGuire CC, Robert JR. "Environmental endocrine disruptors and amphibian immunity: A bridge between the thyroid hormone axis and T cell development." Developmental and comparative immunology.. 2022 Dec 15; :104617. Epub 2022 Dec 15.

Paiola M, Dimitrakopoulou D, Pavelka MS, Robert J. "Amphibians as a model to study the role of immune cell heterogeneity in host and mycobacterial interactions." Developmental and comparative immunology.. 2022 Nov 17; :104594. Epub 2022 Nov 17.

Books & Chapters

Chapter Title: An ancestral immune surveillance system in the amphibian Xenopus connecting certain heat shock proteins with classical and nonclassical MHC class I molecules
Book Title: Heat Shock Proteins in the Immune System
Author List: Robert J. Banach M., and Edholm E
Edited By: PK. Srivastava and R. Binder
Published By: Springer Nature 2018 in eBook

Chapter Title: Evolutionary perspective of tumorigenesis and anti-tumor immunity provided by comparative studies in the amphibian Xenopus
Book Title: Ecology and Evolution of Cancer
Author List: Robert J. De Jesús Andino F., Banach M., Park J., Edholm E.
Edited By: B. Ujvari, B. Roche and F. Thomas
Published By: Elsevier, Acad Press 2017 in London

Chapter Title: Humoral Immune Response of Amphibians
Book Title: Reference Module in Life Sciences: Animal and plant immunology
Author List: Robert, J.
Edited By: Brian Dixon
Published By: Elsevier Inc. 2017 in ScienceDirect