Faculty Directory

Nelson Cesar Di Paolo, PhD

Nelson Cesar Di Paolo, PhD headshot

Assistant Professor
Division of Rheumatology, Department of Pediatrics
Lowance Center for Human Immunology, Department of Medicine
Emory University

EMAIL: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
PHONE: 404-727-4097


Dr. Di Paolo obtained his PhD degree in genetics in 2002 in Argentina, where he studied the role of inflammation in the initiation and development of Parkinson’s Disease. In parallel, he has been working on the projects to utilize gene delivery vectors based on human adenovirus (Adv) for immunotherapy of cancer.

After completion of his PhD studies, he did his post-doctoral training in virology and immunology at the laboratory of Dr. Andre Lieber at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, where he developed a variety of immunotherapeutic strategies to delay cancer progression with using Adv by enhancing host anti-tumor cell mediated immunity. From those studies, it was apparent that inflammation and the innate immune response to Adv were detrimental to the host and together were greatly hindering the utility of this vector system for clinical translational use as anticancer therapeutics.

In 2005, Dr. Di Paolo joined the lab of Dr. Dmitry Shayakhmetov to study the molecular mechanisms of activation of inflammation after host challenge with viral (Adv) and bacterial (Francisella tularensis, Salmonella typhimurium, Listeria monocytogenes, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis) pathogens. The overarching concept of the work has been that understanding of the mechanistic basis for the induction of inflammatory responses to pathogens would provide the opportunities to modulate or completely avoid them through pharmacological means by blocking the relevant signaling pathways.

Dr. Di Paolo has made an original discovery that macrophage-derived interleukin-1a (IL-1a) is the principal cytokine that drives local inflammatory responses to Adv in vivo. He further defined that IL-1a-mediated signaling contributes to the recruitment of neutrophils to tissues that results in tissue damage and elimination of Adv-containing cells.

Dr. Di Paolo joined the Lowance Center for Human Immunology at Emory University as an Assistant Professor in April 2014. The main focus of Dr. Di Paolo’s research program is to unravel to molecular mechanisms of functional IL-1a activation in the context of sterile inflammation that is associated with the vast majority of human autoimmune and immune-mediated disorders. The pathological role of macrophage populations in various tissues and IL-1a-mediated macrophage-stroma cross-talk is a new direction of research that he undertakes in his laboratory.

Dr. Di Paolo is a member of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT) and delivered plenary session talks about his work at annual ASGCT meetings and Keystone Symposia meetings on immunology.


Functional activation of IL-1a and other pro-inflammatory cytokines and macrophage function in health and disease.

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