Jesus Valenzuela

Jesus Valenzuela

Jesus Valenzuela

Power Words

Power Words: Spanish: 
Fuerza de tu mente, Pasión, Actitud positiva, Relaciones firmes
Power Words: English: 
Strength of Mind, Passion, Positive Attitude, Strong Relationships

Where were you born? 

Logan, Utah

What school did you attend? 

The University of Arizona, Department of Biochemistry

What gained you interest in the NIH? 

I was invited as a postdoctoral fellow to be part of a vector biology program at the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, NIAID. I saw a tremendous opportunity to combine knowledge in protein chemistry and molecular biology of vectors of disease with parasitology and immunology and NIAID had all the key players to work on this fascinating area of research.

What kind of work do you do at the NIH? 

We work with insects and ticks that transmit diseases. We study salivary proteins of vectors of disease, how insect salivary proteins and egested insect gut microbiota modulate the skin immune response and how this immune response affects pathogen establishment. We discovered insect salivary proteins that work as vaccines and salivary proteins that work as biomarkers of insect exposure. We also investigate how the Leishmania parasite develops inside the sand fly gut and the molecular determinants that make a sand fly infectious. We discovered a new parasite stage inside the gut of the sand fly and described how this stage augments the infectivity of the insect. To address these questions, we perform basic research in our laboratory, clinical studies at the NIH Clinical Center with human volunteers and field and clinical studies in disease endemic countries including Mali, Cambodia, Brazil, and Tunisia.

What message would you like to send to young Hispanics who are considering going to college? 

I highly encourage young Hispanics to study for a career in biomedical science. Find a good mentor, study hard and be ready to enjoy in the future a highly rewarding experience in biomedicine. The determinant of success is not the color of the skin or race or socioeconomic background, it is the strength of mind, passion, positive attitude and strong relationships that provide the path to success.