Jerry W. Simecka, PhD
Regents Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Education & Experience:
I received a BS in Biology from the University of California in Irvine and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. I completed postdoctoral training at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and was promoted to Research Assistant Professor at that institution. In 1995, I became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the UNT Health Science Center and was eventually promoted to Professor. For 7 years, I was the Chair of the Department of Molecular Biology and Immunology at this institution. As part of my lab, I established Preclinical Services group, which is very successful and well recognized for its work in evaluating new antimicrobials in animal models during discovery and development phase. I am the Executive Director of Preclinical Services, and currently run the group in collaboration with Bill Weiss (Director) and Mark Pulse (Associate Director).
Teaching Areas & Interests:
I have been involved in PharmD, MS, PhD, and DO education for more than 20 years. My teaching areas are focused on immunology and microbiology. I am the Director of several courses in the Graduate and Medical Sciences program at UNTHSC. I was Graduate Advisor for the Microbiology and Immunology program and I am currently the Director of the graduate program in Biotechnology. I have also been on several curriculum committees and headed committees for restructuring curricula. In addition, I am active in the development of active learning strategies and development of clinical problem-solving workshops. For PhD and MS education, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to mentor numerous graduate students that have made valuable contributions to the research described below, as well as some who were part of the Clinical Research Management or Biotechnology programs. We often have medical and pharmacy students pursue research projects in our lab, as well.
Professional Activities & Awards:
I am a member of numerous professional organizations that include the American Association of Immunology and American Society for Microbiology (ASM). I have served on numerous NIH and other grant review panels, member of Editorial Board of the ASM journal, Infection and Immunity, Chair of the Association of Medical School Microbiology and Immunology Chairs committee on Education. I was the Division Chair for Division G (mycoplasmology) for the ASM. I have received several awards from our institution, including Academic Commendation of Excellence, Benjamin L. Cohen, Award for Outstanding Research Achievement, and President’s Award for Research Excellence.
My major research area is in mycoplasma pneumonia and immunity along the respiratory tract. Mycoplasma diseases are a major health problem in man and livestock. There is a critical need in developing effective approaches for vaccination against these diseases. Much of my career has focused on mycoplasma respiratory diseases and the immune responses that determine the outcome of infection. Once we identify these mechanisms, we will seek to develop approaches to target the beneficial responses, avoiding adverse responses that plagued previous vaccine approaches. Another research project is exploring the virulence mechanisms that are different between Clostridium difficile isolates and how that impacts disease pathogenesis.
In 2008, the Pre-Clinical Services group at the University of North Texas Health Science Center was established in my lab. Pre-Clinical Services conducts studies utilizing established models of both acute and chronic bacterial infections in several different animal species. Animal models established include septicemia, lung, intestinal, urinary tract, gastric, biofilm, abscess, and skin infections from a broad range of pathogens. We continue to work with sponsors to develop and establish new animal models to meet their needs. In addition, pharmacokinetic studies with accompanied bioanalytical LCMS or HPLC analysis can be performed in-house for submitted compounds. We are now expanding our capabilities by establishing fungal infection models for research and drug discovery.
Because of our work, there are several new antibiotics and other therapies that are currently, or soon to be, on the market for treatment of patients. In addition, we have presented collaborative studies with companies at national and international meetings, such as Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, General Meeting of the American Society of Microbiology, and European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. We presented several abstracts at these meetings. Although companies do not typically publish their work during the drug discovery phase, there are some manuscripts published or in preparation because of our participation in these studies.