Department of Microbiology University of Alabama
Dr. Mestecky received his M.D. from Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic and his Ph.D. in immunology from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. After postgraduate fellowship in the Department of Immunology, Institute of Microbiology, Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, Prague, he came to UAB as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Microbiology in 1967 and joined the Department of Microbiology faculty in 1969. Additional training include a sabbatical at Rockefeller University, New York, in Henry Kunkel’s laboratory and Visiting Professor at Nihon University, Tokyo, in Dr. I. Moro’s laboratory. Dr. Mestecky has a secondary appointment in the Department of Medicine. Dr. Mestecky’s laboratory studies the defense systems of the respiratory, intestinal and genital tracts, sites of entry for almost all infectious agents. He and his colleagues have characterized the structural and functional uniqueness of antibodies present in external secretions, described key biological features of the cells engaged in the production of these antibodies, and determined vaccination routes effective for the induction of immune responses in mucosal tissues. His laboratory provided evidence in humans for the existence of the common mucosal immune system in which vaccination at one site (e.g., via ingestion) induces an immune response at remote sites, such as tear, salivary, lactating mammary glands, and respiratory tract secretions. Current studies focus on the mucosal immune system of the human genital tract, which displays considerable degree of independence from other mucosal sites, showing that local infection or immunization with genital tract pathogens, including gonococcus, human papilloma virus, and HIV-1 induce minimal protective responses. Results of these studies have had an important impact on the design and administration of novel vaccines suitable for inexpensive and efficient mass immunization. Dr. Mestecky’s laboratory is actively investigating the pathogenesis of human autoimmune diseases. For the first time, they have shown that an immune response to the principal protein of cartilage (collagen Type II) is induced in rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Mestecky’s laboratory is currently studying the molecular basis for the development of IgA nephropathy, a common kidney disease that his group has shown to be an autoimmune disease.