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Dr. Jiri Mestecky

In this interview, Dr. Mestecky and Dr. Bimczok discuss:

  • Major discoveries by Dr. Mestecky’s lab in field of mucosal immunology
  • Challenges in developing commercial mucosal vaccines for humans
  • Development and the future of HIV Vaccines
  • Challenges and opportunities of large datasets that screen the whole system
  • Dr. Mestecky’s advice for graduate students in today’s research climate


Jiri Mestecky, M.D., Ph.D., has been involved in studies of mucosal immunity for over 45 years. With his co-workers he determined the stoichiometry of polypeptide chains and their association in human secretory IgA molecules and independently identified and characterized the novel polypeptide J chain of polymeric immunoglobulins. Subsequent studies were focused on the common mucosal immune system and immunization routes, (oral, nasal, rectal) effective in the induction of humoral immune responses in individual compartments of both the human and animal mucosal immune systems. Antibody-producing cells of the major Ig isotypes from various mucosal and systemic tissues, lymphoblastoid cells, and lymphocytes of the B cell lineage were studies with respect to the expression of J chain from the earliest stages of differentiation. The production, transport, distribution, and metabolism of various molecular forms of IgA, particularly the glycan-dependent catabolism, were studied various animal models and human cell lines, and resulted in the identification of receptors and cell types involved. More recent studies concern humoral immune responses in HIV-exposed, -infected or -immunized individuals which demonstrated that in contrast to other mucosal infections, IgA responses to HIV are either absent or surprisingly low. Parallel investigations of the properties of IgA1 molecules and IgA-1-containing immune complexes present in sera and mesangial deposits of patients with the most common glomerulonephritis – IgA nephropathy – revealed the molecular/cellular basis of this disease, specifically the altered glycan structure in the hinge region of IgA1 heavy chains.

Dr. Mestecky is Professor of Microbiology and Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Professor of Immunology and Microbiology at the School of Medicine, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. He holds three honorary doctorate degrees from Denmark, Sweden and the Czech Republic. He was the 1st President of SMI and organizer/co-organizer of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th International Congresses of SMI.