Location: 4.013V - MED


Cellular & Structural Biology

Kraig, Ellen, Ph.D.


Personal Statement:

Dr. Kraig’s interest in immunological research was sparked four decades ago by the discovery of immunoglobulin gene rearrangement. At the time, she was a graduate student in Dr. Jim Haber’s lab (Brandeis University) working on another rearrangement gene system, yeast mating type, and its regulation of development/sporulation.

In order to explore this area further, she attended the Cold Spring Harbor summer immunology course in 1978 and had the opportunity to meet many leaders in the field, including Dr. Leroy Hood, whose lab she joined as a postdoctoral fellow two years later. While at Caltech, she had the opportunity to expand her knowledge of immunology, with a focus on molecular technologies, and to interact extensively with senior immunologists in the area, including Dr. Ray Owen, Ellen Rothenberg, and Eli Sercarz.

By the time she accepted a faculty position at UT Health San Antonio she was intellectually prepared as an immunologist, but was still primarily a molecular biologist. Her focus is on aging and its effects on immune regulation developed in collaboration with a growing community of researchers in this area on our campus through the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies.


Ph.D., Biology at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA


Dr. Kraig’s laboratory uses molecular techniques to study various aspects of immune regulation and bacterial pathogenesis. They currently have projects in three different areas. First, periodontal disease affects a majority of adults in this country. They are interested in characterizing the interaction between the host and the bacterial strains implicated in this disease.

They have focused on Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, a bacterial pathogen that has been implicated in Localized Juvenile Periodontists and is also seen in some adult forms of the disease. They are studying the regulation of virulence factors by this microorganism. In addition, they have recently begun to characterize the host T cell response to A. actinobacillus.

Second, they have studied the role of T lymphocytes in various autoimmune disorders, particularly myasthenia gravis. Currently, her lab is using an animal model to ask how aging of the immune system will affect the development of autoimmune disorders. They are very excited by a novel transgenic mouse recently generated; these mice express the T-AChRa chain at the neuromuscular junction and develop T cell tolerance to the T-AChR. With this new model, the lab can now address the mechanisms of tolerance and ask whether aging or environmental factors might affect tolerance and/or disease.

Lastly, Dr. Kraig’s lab has identified a novel DNA binding complex that is produced only in the thymus and appears to play a role in regulating TCR gene rearrangement; current efforts are underway to characterize these regulatory factors. Thus far, they have evidence that a CREB-like protein is involved, but a second T-cell specific factor may also be important. Aberrant rearrangement of immunoglobulin and/or T cell receptor genes has been seen in many lymphomas and leukemias; understanding these regulatory processes may provide critical insight into these diseases.

Click on the following link for additional information on Dr. Kraig:

Awards & Accomplishments

2013Elected to the Council of Principal Investigators, UTHSCSA, Inaugural Member
2009Selected as an Inaugural member of the Academy of Master Teachers, UTHSCSA
2008American Association of Immunologist (AAI) Distinguished Service Award
2006Selected for membership in the UT Academy for Medical Education
2000Dean’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching
1996UTHSCSA Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence
1975University of Denver Biology Department Chairman’s Award


  • FASEB Board Member, AAI Representative
  • Review Committee Member, UT System Teaching STARS Program
  • Science Advisory Board, Texans for the Advancement of Medical Science (TAMR)
  • Member, Barshop Institute of Aging and Longevity Studies