Frank R. DeLeo, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Pathogen-Host Cell Biology Section


4 Memorial Drive
Room 228B
Bethesda, MD 20814


Research Topics

Phagocytosis of MRSA by a human neutrophil.


Bacterial infection and host response.

Although most bacteria are killed readily by neutrophils, pathogens such asStaphylococcus aureus have evolved mechanisms to circumvent destruction by these key innate immune cells and thereby cause human infections. A better understanding of the bacteria-neutrophil interface at the cell and molecular levels will provide information critical to our understanding, treatment, and control of disease caused by bacterial pathogens.


Credit: NIAID

Interaction of Klebsiella pneumoniae with a human neutrophil.


Credit: NIAID

Formation of a neutrophil extracellular trap.

The long-term objective of our research is to promote development of enhanced diagnostics, better prophylactic agents, and new treatments for emerging bacterial pathogens such as community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus(CA-MRSA) and carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae. To achieve that objective, the Pathogen-Host Cell Biology Section does the following:

  • Conducts a systematic molecular dissection of steps involved in the pathogen-host interaction, with emphasis on the interaction of bacterial pathogens with human neutrophils
  • Investigates mechanisms mediating evasion of innate immunity by bacterial pathogens
  • Identifies new virulence genes involved in the pathogenesis of infections caused by pathogens of special interest
  • Uses animal infection models and (if possible) human specimens to test hypotheses developed from in vitro analyses


Dr. DeLeo received his Ph.D. in microbiology from Montana State University in 1996, studying the molecular basis of superoxide generation by human neutrophils. He did his postdoctoral training in the area of innate immunity and infectious diseases in the Department of Medicine at the University of Iowa (1996–2000). Dr. DeLeo joined the staff at the NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories in 2000 and served previously as Acting Chief of the Laboratory of Human Bacterial Pathogenesis (2007-2013). He was appointed to the NIH Senior Biomedical Research Service in 2011 and is Chief of the Laboratory of Bacteriology.

Editorial Boards

  • Infection and Immunity
  • Journal of Innate Immunity

Selected Publications

  1. Kobayashi SD, Voyich JM, Buhl CL, Stahl RM, DeLeo FR. Global changes in gene expression by human polymorphonuclear leukocytes during receptor-mediated phagocytosis: cell fate is regulated at the level of gene expression. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002;99(10):6901-6.

  2. Kobayashi SD, Braughton KR, Whitney AR, Voyich JM, Schwan TG, Musser JM, DeLeo FR. Bacterial pathogens modulate an apoptosis differentiation program in human neutrophils. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003;100(19):10948-53.

  3. Voyich JM, Otto M, Mathema B, Braughton KR, Whitney AR, Welty D, Long RD, Dorward DW, Gardner DJ, Lina G, Kreiswirth BN, DeLeo FR. Is Panton-Valentine leukocidin the major virulence determinant in community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus disease? J Infect Dis. 2006;194(12):1761-70.

  4. Deleo FR, Chen L, Porcella SF, Martens CA, Kobayashi SD, Porter AR, Chavda KD, Jacobs MR, Mathema B, Olsen RJ, Bonomo RA, Musser JM, Kreiswirth BN. Molecular dissection of the evolution of carbapenem-resistant multilocus sequence type 258 Klebsiella pneumoniae. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014;111(13):4988-93.

  5. Voyich JM, Braughton KR, Sturdevant DE, Whitney AR, Saïd-Salim B, Porcella SF, Long RD, Dorward DW, Gardner DJ, Kreiswirth BN, Musser JM, DeLeo FR. Insights into mechanisms used by Staphylococcus aureus to avoid destruction by human neutrophils. J Immunol. 2005;175(6):3907-19.

This page was last updated on August 3rd, 2017