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Fabian Crespo

Research Interests ~ Teaching ~ Students ~ Laboratory

Research Interests:

Today, I identify myself as a biological anthropologist interested in human evolutionary immunology.  I received my Ph.D. in biology from the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina) in 1998; and soon after my Ph.D., I re-directed my research agenda and decided to focus my research on different aspects of human immunology. In 2000, I moved to USA where in 2001 I started my postdoctoral research at the University of Louisville (Kentucky). What follows is a brief description of my research projects with the corresponding dates and publications.


  • 2001-2005: Post-Doctoral Research-Director: Dr. Rafael Fernandez-Botran (Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Louisville). I worked on diverse projects focused on cytokine biology and cancer immunology (1,2,3,5). My main project was focused on immune-regulation by tumor cells and T helper cell differentiation (4).


1- Fernandez-Botran, R.; Gorantla, V.; Sun, X.; Ren, X.; Perez-Abadia, G.; Crespo, F.; Oliver, R.; Orhun, H.;        Quan, E.; Maldonado, C.; Ray, M. & Barker, J.  2002.  Targeting of glycosaminoglycan-cytokine interactions as a novel therapeutic approach in allotransplantation.  Transplantation 74(5):623-629.

2. Fernandez-Botran, R.; Crespo, F. & Sun, X.  2002.  Soluble cytokine receptors in biological therapy.  Exp.  Opin.  Biol.  Ther. 2(6):585-605.

3. Cripps, J.G.; Crespo, F.; Romanovskis, P.; Spatola, A.F.; Fernandez-Botran, R.  2005.  Modulation of acute inflammation by targeting glycosaminoglycan-cytokine interactions.  Intl.  Immunopharmacol. 5(11):1622-1632.

4. Crespo, F.; Sun, X.; Cripps, J.; & Fernandez-Botran, R.  2006.  The immunoregulatory effects of gangliosides involve immune deviation favoring type-2 T cell responses.  J. Leukocyte Biol. 79:586-595.

5. Ihenetu, K.; Qazzaz, H.; Crespo, F.; Fernandez-Botran, R.; and Valdes, R.  2007.  Digoxin-Like Immunoreactive Factors (DLIF) Induce Apoptosis in Human Acute T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  Clinical Chemistry 53(7): 1315-1322.


  • 2006-2010: Assistant Professor (term appt.) (Department. of Anthropology; and Department of Psychiatry) I worked in collaboration with Dr. Manuel Casanova (Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Louisville) and Dr. Irene Litvan (Department of Neurology, University of Louisville) studying the role of inflammation and cytokine expression on different brain disorders, like Autism (6), and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (7).

6. Crespo, F.; Fernandez-Botran, R.; Tillquist, C.; Sears, L.; Mott, M. & Casanova, M.  2009.  Cytokine polymorphisms in autism: Their role in immune alterations.  In "Autism: Oxidative Stress, Inflammation and Immune Abnormalities" Edited by Abha Chauhan, CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Publishers: 315-324.

7. Fernandez-Botran, R; Ahmed, Z; Crespo, F; Gatenbee, Ch; Gonzalez, J; Dickson, D; and Litvan, I. 2011. Cytokine expression and microglial activation in brains of progressive supranuclear palsy and Alzheimer’s disease patients.  Parkinsonism & Related Disorders 17: 683-688.


  • 2011 - present: Assistant Professor (tenure-track) (Department of Anthropology) Since 2011 I directed my research agenda on understanding inflammation and immune responses from an evolutionary perspective; where my working hypothesis is that different pathogenic experiences in the past shaped the immune system in different human populations. I am looking for immunological evidence as well as bioarchaeological evidence that will help understanding the immunological shift after an epidemic event. Two main events had a great influence in my research (and teaching) career and helped me with this transition. In 2010, I was invited to participate in brainstorming meetings (Ohio State University) for the "Global History of Health Project" ( directed by Dr. Clark Spencer Larsen and Richard Steckel. And in 2012, I was selected to participate in a NEH Summer Seminar (6 weeks, Wellcome Library, London, UK) entitled "Health and Disease in the Middle Ages" ( directed by Dr. Monica Green and Rachel Scott.  After these transforming experiences, my current research projects (and the "working titles") are:

      a) Reconstructing the impact of the Black Death on the immune system in human populations.

      b) The role of human immunity during the Black Death epidemic.

      c) Exploring the hypothesis on cross immunity between tuberculosis and leprosy.

The most ambitious aspect of these projects and one of the main goals common for all them is generating a truly interdisciplinary agenda and bringing together colleagues from different disciplines such as: bio-archaeology, cultural anthropology, history, paleo-epidemiology, paleo-demography, immunology, and microbiology.

Please, contact me by email if you have any questions about my current projects. I will be really happy expanding my ideas and rationale for each of them.

However, research is not my sole professional goal.  I am committed to pursue a career that combines teaching and research.  Currently, I am teaching different courses about human evolution, human adaptation and human health from an evolutionary perspective.  See "Teaching" for more information about my courses.

Please contact me for further information.

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  • Introduction to Biological Anthropology(202): Spring/Fall & Online - DE

This course provides a general introduction to biological anthropology through an examination of the place of humans in the animal kingdom, the human evolutionary past, a comparative examination of human and primate behavior, and the dynamics of human variation.  The course meets the General Education Program requirement for Natural Sciences.  Students will demonstrate their ability to relate findings from paleoanthropology, primatology, and population genetics to general principles of evolution and biological diversity.  Additionally, they will demonstrate their ability to apply these principles toward explaining questions of hominid evolution and contemporary human biological variation.

  • Human Origins (303): Spring

The singular trajectory of human evolution presents patterns of genotypic and phenotypic variability that can be investigated by biological anthropologists.  In this course you will learn about the common forces of evolution that shaped (and shape) both genotypic and phenotypic variability, explore the fossil record related to the evolution of Homo sapiens, and discuss current issues in the field of human evolution.

  • Genes, People, and Evolution (305): Fall every other year

Where do we come from and to whom are we related?  How can our genes help us to understand our evolutionary history?  How has geography and history affected our genetic diversity?  Human evolutionary genetics is the study of how one human genome differs from another and the implications of this for our understanding of our species in the past and present.  Differences between genomes form the basis of anthropological, medical and forensic genetics.  This course analyzes how we can use genetics to reconstruct individual ancestry and population history.

  • Human Biological Variation (306): Fall every other year

People are biologically (and culturally) very diverse.  We often think about these differences in terms of race or ethnic group.  But we do not often think about these variations in terms of their evolutionary origin or their adaptive significance.  Human variation can be visible (skin color, nose shape) or invisible (biochemical and molecular differences).  Anthropologists and biologists have studied these variations for years and have attempted to understand why populations have different traits or have the same traits but in different frequencies.  Now, new genetic and molecular evidence is changing the perspective of the understanding of our own biological variation.  The main goal of this course is to study and discuss why the biological differences exist and how they help humans adapt to varying environments rather than oversimplify and document the differences creating racial categories.

  • ·Human Adaptation (540): Fall every other year (Fall 2011)

This course explores and discusses biological strategies of human adaptation to different environments from an evolutionary perspective. The study of human adaptation emphasizes the plasticity of human responses to different environmental conditions, and this plasticity should be understood at the biological and behavioral level. However, current adaptations reflect present and past biological and behavioral processes.  The central goal of this course is to understand how at multiple levels (anatomy, physiology, genetics, and behavior) human populations (past and present) respond to their surroundings. To achieve this goal, the course will be focused on human lifestyle changes and the corresponding adaptations (or misadaptations?) developed during and after the agriculture revolution.

  • Human Evolution in Health and Disease (650): Fall every other year (Fall 2010)

Our body is a bundle of trade-offs, shaped by different evolutionary forces in ancestral environments. The adaptations making us human were established to maximize our fitness but they were fixed during our evolutionary history and may not fit us as well at present time. Disease was, and is, one of the main selective forces shaping our biology, and it is necessary to study the relationship between our species and those diseases that were (and are) part of our evolutionary history. This course explores and analyses how human biology and evolution was and is shaped by life styles, health and disease. Human Evolution in Health and Disease is a seminar-style course.


UNIVERSITY OF BUENOS AIRES - Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales (Argentina):

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