Douglas Reed, PhD

Associate Professor, Immunology

Associate Professor, Infectious Diseases and Microbiology


9043 BST3, 3501 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15261
R-znvy: qferrq@pie.cvgg.rqh
Primary Phone: 967-193-4745
Fax: 967-193-3462
Web site:

Personal Statement

Douglas Reed did doctoral work at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, working on thymocyte development in vitro. In 1995 he moved to Connecticut to work as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of  Leo Lefrancois studying T lymphocyte activation in response to antigens entering through the small intestine.


Reed became a principal investigator at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in 1999, developing animal models to aerosolized pathogens and conducting efficacy studies in those models. While at USAMRIID Reed conducted and supervised aerosol exposures of animals including rodents, rabbits, and nonhuman primates. He developed nonhuman primate models of aerosol exposure to Venezuelan, Western, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis and evaluating candidate vaccines, developing rodent and nonhuman primate models of aerosol exposure to Marburg and Ebola viruses, and evaluating a GMP-grade recombinant plague vaccine in mice against pneumonic plague.


Reed is currently the aerobiology manager of the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, working with collaborators to develop animal models of aerosol exposure to pathogens that are either biodefense threats or emerging infectious diseases.


  • BS in Microbiology from Oklahoma State University
  • MS in Microbiology from Oklahoma State University
  • 1995 | PhD in Immunology from UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

Research areas

My laboratory has ongoing research on three principal projects.

  • First, we are working to understand the common pathological mechanisms of disease and host response to infection with intracellular bacterial pathogens including F. tularensis, B. pseudomallei, and Y. pestis.
  • Second, working with Amy Hartman we are developing rodent and nonhuman primate models of aerosol exposure to Rift Valley Fever (RVF) virus and using those models to evaluate vaccines and therapeutics as well as to understand the pathophysiology of RVF.
  • Third, as the manager of the Aerobiology Core I work with a number of external investigators to expose animals to aerosols containing pathogenic agents. That work includes model development including evaluation of immunological responses using flow cytometry and physiological responses using radiotelemetry.

Reed lab in focus: F. tularensis

Francisella tularensis is a facultative intracellular bacterium that causes tularemia (a.k.a. rabbit fever), which when inhaled causes severe morbidity and mortality in human beings. After inhalation, the bacterium causes a fulminant bacterial pneumonia but also disseminates to a number of other tissues and organs including the spleen, lymph nodes, intestines, liver, kidney, bone marrow, and brain. Although macrophages and dendritic cells are thought to be a primary target of F. tularensis, the pathological mechanisms by which F. tularensis causes disease and death are not understood.


Because of the potential to cause disease when inhaled, tularemia is a potential biological weapon for which there are no licensed vaccines or antibiotics. We have successfully re-established the rabbit as a model of pneumonic tularemia that is relevant to the human disease. Within 3 days of exposure, naïve rabbits develop fever and begin losing weight. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate rises dramatically, an indicator of a robust inflammatory response. CBC results show a marked decline in lymphocytes and platelets in the blood. Radiographs show the development of a severe bacterial pneumonia in the rabbits. Naïve rabbits exposed to aerosolized virulent F. tularensis die between 4-7 days of infection.


In collaboration with Eileen Barry at the University of Maryland-Baltimore, we have used the rabbit model to evaluate attenuated strains of F. tularensis as possible vaccines. Three of these strains provided better protection than the existing vaccine candidate, the Live Vaccine Strain (LVS). The level of protection seen depends on the attenuated strain, the route of vaccination, and the number of vaccinations. Using an aerosol prime-boost vaccine approach we have achieved 83% survival with our lead vaccine candidate while LVS can only extend time to death. Serum IgG and IgM titers against F. tularensis in vaccinated rabbits correspond with the level of protection elicited. We are working with Barry and Karsten Hazlett of Albany Medical College to determine the antigens important for protection as well as the role of antigen persistence and inflammation. Our long term goals are

  1. to determine the immunological mechanisms of protection responsible for the protection seen with these vaccines in order to design a subunit-based vaccine, and
  2. to understand the role of the host immune response in the outcome of disease.

In addition to the work on F. tularensis, we work with other investigators to develop animal models for aerosol exposure to infectious agents and to use those models to either understand pathogenesis or evaluate candidate vaccines and therapeutics. This includes not only natural respiratory pathogens (influenza, tuberculosis) but also pathogens that are biodefense threats. This includes the development of nonhuman primate models for aerosol exposure to a number of highly pathogenic viruses including Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), western equine encephalitis virus (WEEV), eastern equine encephalitis virus (EEEV), and Rift Valley Fever virus (RVFV). In addition to doing aerosol exposures, we use radiotelemetry in the nonhuman primates to study the physiological response infection. This response can be used as an early indicator of outcome or as a means for determining the efficacy of potential vaccines or therapeutics.

Selected Publications

  • Ma, Henry, Lundy, J., O’Malley, K., Klimstra, W.B., Hartman, A.L., Reed, D.S. 2019. Electrocardiography Abnormalities in Macaques after Infection with Encephalitic Alphaviruses. Pathogens 8, 240; doi:10.3390/pathogens8040240
  • Bowling, J.D., O’Malley, K.J., Klimstra, W.B., Hartman, A.L., Reed, D.S. 2019. A vibrating mesh nebulizer as an alternative to the Collison 3-jet nebulizer for infectious disease aerobiology. Applied & Environmental Microbiology. Aug 14;85(17) PMID 31253680
  • O'Malley, K., Bowling, J.D., Hazlett, K.R.O., Barry, E.M., Reed, D.S. 2019. Development, characterization and standardization of a nose-only inhalation exposure system for exposure of rabbits to small particle aerosols containing Francisella tularensisInfection & Immunity. pii: IAI.00198-19 PMID: 31085702
  • Albe, J., Boyles, D.A., Walters, A.W., Kujawa, M.R., McMillen, C.M., Reed, D.S., Hartman, A.L. 2019. Neutrophil and macrophage influx into the central nervous system are inflammatory components of lethal Rift Valley Fever encephalitis in rats. PLoS Pathogens. Jun 20;15(6):e1007833 PMID: 31220182
  • Trobaugh, D.W., Sun, C., Reed, D.S., Klimstra,W.B. 2019. Rational design of a live-attenuated eastern equine encephalitis virus vaccine through informed mutation of virulence determinants. PLoS Pathogens. Feb 11;15(2):e1007584 PMID: 30742691
  • O’Malley, K., Bowling, J.D., Stinson, E., Cole, K.S., Mann, B.J., Namjoshi, P., Hazlett, K.R.O.*, Barry, E.M.*, Reed, D.S.* 2018. Aerosol prime-boost vaccination with defined, attenuated mutants of type A Francisella tularensis provides strong protection in outbred rabbits against lethal aerosol challenge with virulent SCHU S4. PLoS ONE Oct 22;13(10):e0205928 PMID: 30346998 * - equal contribution

Complete List of Publications

Douglas  Reed