Luis M. Franco, M.D.

Stadtman Investigator

Functional Immunogenomics Section


9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20892


Research Topics

The Functional Immunogenomics Section studies how genes control the function of cells in the human immune system. We are especially interested in how treatments that change the expression of human genes affect the behavior of immune cells. Our long-term goal is to enable the development of better treatments for human diseases that are caused by an overactive immune system.

Our scientists work at the intersection of clinical medicine, human immunology, genomics, and bioinformatics. A major area of focus for our team is the dissection of the mechanisms by which glucocorticoids regulate human immunity. Glucocorticoids are a class of drugs. They have been the cornerstone of anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive therapies for over 70 years. They are highly effective at controlling an overactive immune system, but they also have a long list of serious side effects. Although they are one of the most widely prescribed classes of drugs worldwide, there are surprisingly large gaps in our understanding of how glucocorticoids regulate the behavior of human immune cells. Our team is working to help fill in those gaps, by applying advanced genomic and proteomic technologies to the study of the response to glucocorticoids in healthy humans and people with autoimmune diseases.


Luis Franco, M.D., joined the Systemic Autoimmunity Branch at the NIAMS in 2019. He received his medical degree from the Javeriana University School of Medicine in Bogotá, Colombia. He completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in clinical genetics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. From 2009 to 2014, Dr. Franco was assistant professor in the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics and the Department of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. From 2014 to 2019, he was an Assistant Clinical Investigator at the Laboratory of Immune System Biology at the NIAID.

Selected Publications

  1. Wigerblad G, Cao Q, Brooks S, Naz F, Gadkari M, Jiang K, Gupta S, O'Neil L, Dell'Orso S, Kaplan MJ, Franco LM. Single-Cell Analysis Reveals the Range of Transcriptional States of Circulating Human Neutrophils. J Immunol. 2022.
  2. Gadkari M, Sun J, Carcamo A, Alessi H, Hu Z, Fraser ID, Pegoraro G, Franco LM. High-throughput imaging of mRNA at the single-cell level in human primary immune cells. RNA. 2022.
  3. Cao Q, Boo Irizarry Y, Yazhuk S, Tran T, Gadkari M, Franco LM. GCgx: transcriptome-wide exploration of the response to glucocorticoids. J Mol Endocrinol. 2021;68(2):B1-B4.
  4. Hong SG, Sato N, Legrand F, Gadkari M, Makiya M, Stokes K, Howe KN, Yu SJ, Linde NS, Clevenger RR, Hunt T, Hu Z, Choyke PL, Dunbar CE, Klion AD, Franco LM. Glucocorticoid-induced eosinopenia results from CXCR4-dependent bone marrow migration. Blood. 2020;136(23):2667-2678.
  5. Franco LM, Gadkari M, Howe KN, Sun J, Kardava L, Kumar P, Kumari S, Hu Z, Fraser IDC, Moir S, Tsang JS, Germain RN. Immune regulation by glucocorticoids can be linked to cell type-dependent transcriptional responses. J Exp Med. 2019;216(2):384-406.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Tuesday, August 9, 2022