Meet the LEAD Scholars: Francisco Carrillo-Salinas, PhD

Meet Francisco Carrillo-Salinas, PhD, one of the participants in the Leadership, Education, Advancement and Diversity (LEAD) Scholars Program
Francisco Carrillo-Salinas

Francisco Carrillo-Salinas is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the department of Immunology at Tufts University School of Medicine. He received his Master in Neuroscience and PhD in Neuroscience from Universidad Autonoma of Madrid, Spain. Currently, Carrillo-Salinas is a member of Marta Rodriguez-Garcia’s laboratory at Tufts University, where is focused on deciphering the role of microbiota-derived metabolites in neutrophil function in the female genital tract and in mucosal HIV acquisition.

He was awarded with an American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship, which contributed to the development of his project. In addition, he has been the recipient of the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) Experimental Pathologist-in-Training (EPIT) Award in 2019 and 2021, ASIP GALL Trainee Scholar Award for Excellence in Cardiovascular Research in 2018 and 2020, among others. He was recently awarded an American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship, which has contributed to the development of his project. In addition, he has been the recipient of the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) Experimental Pathologist-in-Training (EPIT) Award in 2019 and 2021, and the ASIP GALL Trainee Scholar Award for Excellence in Cardiovascular Research in 2018 and 2020, among others.

Summary of Francisco Carrillo-Salinas’ LEAD Research

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) continues to be a major global public health issue, for which there is no cure. Although antiretroviral therapy has been shown to be very efficient reducing death rate and chronifying the disease, around 75% of people infected with HIV show neuroinflammation in the central nervous system (CNS), which leads to a wide range of neurocognitive disorders, from mild cognitive impairment to motor problems, demyelination and dementia, classified as HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND).

In this context, the proposed project will study the contribution of neutrophils in the chronic innate response associated to HIV infection, and how neutrophils are involved in blood brain barrier (BBB) disruption and demyelination. For that, we will use spatial transcriptomics, a novel technique that will allow us to define transcriptomic signature of neutrophils and endothelial cells in specific location, in this case demyelinated areas, in human brain sections. In addition, in vitro experiments will show the direct contribution of neutrophils to demyelination.

Novel information will arise from the proposed aims that will contribute to our understanding of how neutrophil responses impact BBB disruption and demyelination in HIV-infected patients, a topic for which there is a complete gap in knowledge. In addition, the project will provide a foundation for the identification of new pharmacological targets in chronic HIV stage.

Innovations

Conceptual novelty: From a new point of view, this project focuses on the contribution of the chronic innate immune response, and specifically neutrophils, to the CNS demyelinating process exhibited by HIV-infected people, which can lead to HAND. The present proposal assumes that chronic HIV infection induces a chronic neutrophil response that compromises the BBB, facilitating neutrophil transmigration and directly contributing to demyelination.

Methodological novelty: Our well-established and validated methodology to isolate purified populations of human neutrophils (Barr et al. 2018) and evaluation of demyelination and neuroinflammation in both demyelinating and viral mouse models (Carrillo-Salinas et al. 2017; Carrillo-Salinas et al. 2014), combined with our recent development of new technologies to perform spatial transcriptomics, places us in a unique position to define the characteristics of neutrophils and endothelial cells in demyelinated areas and how neutrophils contribute to demyelination in the context of HIV infection at a deep, mechanistic level.

Leadership, Education, Advancement and Diversity Scholars Program

The Leadership, Education, Advancement and Diversity (LEAD) Scholars Program offers two years of structured professional development for Tufts University School of Medicine postdoctoral trainees, residents, fellows, early and mid-career faculty from groups underrepresented in medicine and science to enhance their opportunities for success and impact in the fields of medicine and science.

Learn more about the LEAD Scholars Program

Department:
Immunology