Jason R. Lees, Ph.D.

Jason R. Lees, Ph.D.

Name: Jason R. Lees, Ph.D.

Department of Primary Appointment: Dept. of Medicine
Position: USU Faculty
Title: Assistant Professor

Affiliated Departments: Molecular & Cell Biology,

Email: jason.lees@usuhs.edu (link sends e-mail)
Office Phone: (301) 295-5896
Fax Number: (301) 319-0680


  • University of South Dakota, B.S. 1999
  • University of Iowa, Ph. D. 2004
  • Washington University, Postdoctoral Fellowship 2004-2008

Research: Immune cell trafficking, tissue localization and therapeutic targets in neuroinflammation

My research is primarily focused on characterizing the cellular and molecular requirements involved in the induction and maintenance of neuroinflammation.  Specifically, I am interested in determining the mechanisms responsible for the entrance and egress of inflammatory cells at different sites within the central nervous system (CNS) during the demyelinating autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis (MS).  In addition, I am working to determine the relative contributions of interactions between specific cellular subsets (particularly leukocyte, glial, and endothelial cells) and the pleiotropic cytokine interferon gamma to the establishment and maintenance of autoimmune disease within the CNS.  We utilize a novel technique (the In vivo Block/In vitro Stain or IBIS assay) to determine T cell localization or retention within the CNS, allowing us to address mechanisms involved in T cell CNS invasion and retention at both single cell and population levels in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis a model of MS. My ultimate goal as a scientist is the dissection of the mechanisms active in the interplay between the immune system and the CNS during neuroinflammation, with subsequent development of novel treatment options for neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Ibis Retention Detection Assay

Selected Publications

Elzey BD, Tian J, Jensen RJ, Swanson AK, Lees JR, Lentz SR, Stein CS, Nieswandt B, Wang Y, Davidson BL, Ratliff TL. Platelet-mediated modulation of adaptive immunity. A communication link between innate and adaptive immune compartments. Immunity 2003 Jul; 19(1):9-19.

Lees JR, Archambault A, Russell JH.  T-cell trafficking competence is required for CNS invasion. Journal of Neuroimmunology 2006 Aug; 177(1):1-10

Lees JR, Charbonneau B, Hayball JD, Diener K, Brown M, Matusik R, Cohen MB, Ratliff TL.  T-cell recognition of a prostate specific antigen is not sufficient to induce prostate tissue destruction. Prostate 2006 May 1; 66(6):578-590

Lees JR, Charbonneau B, Swanson AK, Jensen RJ, Zhang J, Matusik R, Ratliff TL.  Deletion is neither sufficient nor necessary for the induction of peripheral tolerance in mature CD8+ T-cells. Immunology 2006 Feb; 117(2):248-261

Lees JR, Golumbek PT, Sim J, Russell JH. Regional CNS responses to IFN-gamma determine lesion localization patterns during EAE pathogenesis.  Journal of Experimental Medicine 2008 Oct 27; 205(11):2633-42

Lees JR, and Russell JH. Host T-cells are the Main Producers of IL-17 within the CNS during Initiation of EAE Induced by Adoptive Transfer of Th1 Cell Lines. Journal of Immunology 2008 Jun 15; 180(12):8066-8072

McCandless EE, Budde M, Lees JR, Dorsey D, Lyng E, Klein RS. IL-1R signaling within the central nervous system regulates CXCL12 expression at the blood-brain barrier and disease severity during experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Journal of Immunology 2009 Jul 1; 183(1):613-20.

Lees JR#, Sim J, Russell JH.  Encephalitogenic T-cells increase numbers of CNS T-cells regardless of antigen specificity by both increasing T-cell entry and preventing egress. Journal of Neuroimmunology2010 Mar; 220(1):10-16 #=corresponding author

Shi Q, Lees JR, Scott DW, Farber DL, Bartlett ST. Endogenous Expansion of Regulatory T Cells Leads to Long-Term Islet Graft Survival in Diabetic NOD Mice. American Journal of Transplantation, 2012 May; 12(5):1124-32

Li X, Lees JR#. Pre-existing central nervous system lesions negate cytokine requirements for regional experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis development. Immunology, 2013 Mar;138(3):208-15.

Lees JR#.  Interferon gamma in autoimmunity: a complicated player on a complex stage. 2014 Cytokine  S1043-4666(14)00558-4. PMID: 25464925