Janis Weis, Immunologist from University of Utah

Janis Weis

Tick Boot Camp Podcast
Professor Janis Weis was featured on the Tick Boot Camp Podcast:


Dr. Weis’ Background and Career
Dr. Janis Weis is an academic professor at the University of Utah in the Department of Pathology. She enjoys working with graduate students in her lab, focusing on important research problems related to host-pathogen interactions. Dr. Weis completed her undergraduate degree in microbiology at the University of Kansas and her Ph.D. in microbiology at the University of Minnesota. She then conducted her post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Host-Pathogen Interactions and Lyme Disease
Dr. Weis’ research concentrates on how bacteria function and interact with their hosts. In the context of Lyme disease, she studies Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria responsible for causing the disease. Her work has revealed that the immune response to these bacteria can vary greatly among hosts, depending on their genetic makeup. This variation can lead to different disease outcomes and severity in humans.

Type 1 Interferon and Inflammation
One of the key discoveries in Dr. Weis’ research is the role of type 1 interferon in Lyme disease. Type 1 interferon is an antiviral molecule that can cause detrimental effects if highly expressed in specific tissues. In mice with Lyme disease, type 1 interferon is highly expressed when Borrelia invades the joint, leading to inflammation and arthritis. Identifying a gene that regulates type 1 interferon could pave the way for personalized treatments that target this molecule to reduce inflammation and improve patient outcomes.

Autoimmune Components and Chronic Conditions
Dr. Weis’ research also investigates the potential autoimmune components of Lyme disease. In some cases, the immune system’s response to Borrelia burgdorferi can lead to an autoimmune reaction, where the body mistakenly attacks its own tissues. By studying mice with genetic mutations that affect their immune systems, researchers can better understand the factors contributing to chronic conditions and develop targeted therapies to address these issues.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations
Dr. Janis Weis’ research has significantly advanced our understanding of Lyme disease and the factors that contribute to its severity. Her work on type 1 interferon, host-pathogen interactions, and autoimmune components has the potential to improve treatment strategies and patient outcomes. In the meantime, it is essential for individuals to take precautions against tick bites and seek prompt medical attention if they suspect they have been bitten by a tick or show symptoms of Lyme disease.