Dr. Fabian Crespo, PhD

Associate Professor


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. dissertation, I re-directed my career and decided to focus my research and teaching agenda 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).

From 2001-2005 (Post-Doctoral track-Dept. of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Louisville) I worked under the supervision of Dr. Rafael Fernandez-Botran on diverse projects focused on cytokine biology and cancer immunology [see publications 1-5].

From 2006-2010 (Assistant Professor-Term Appt.- Dept. of Anthropology and Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Louisville) I worked in collaboration with Dr. Manuel Casanova (Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Louisville) and Dr. Irene Litvan (Department of Neurology, University of Louisville) on different projects studying the role of inflammation and cytokine expression on brain disorders such as Autism and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy [see publications 6 and 7].

From 2011-2017 (Assistant Professor-Tenure Track) and 2018-present (Associate Professor - Dept. of Anthropology, University of Louisville). During the last decade, my main research goal is the study of the immune system, and how different forces (especially infectious diseases) have shaped the inflammatory responses and the overall immune competence in different human populations.  However, understanding the heterogeneous immunological landscapes observed in past populations requires a multidisciplinary approach combining experimental immunology, bioarchaeology, and history [see below CURRENT PROJECTS and RECENT PUBLICATIONS: 2014-2023]. My current projects have a biosocial approach when studying how chronic infections such as syphilis, plague, tuberculosis, leprosy, or yellow fever affected and re-shaped our immune competence. All projects involve collaborations with different researchers from national and international institutions. Locally, I am currently working with colleagues in USA from University of Colorado; Mississippi State University; George Mason University; Ohio State University; and internationally with colleagues from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain); Durham University (England); National Institute of Anthropology and University of Buenos Aires (Argentina).

Two main events had a great influence on my research (and teaching) plans. In 2010, my participation in brainstorming meetings in the Ohio State University for the Global History Health Projecthttp://global.sbs.ohio-state.edu (Directors: Dr. Clark Spencer Larsen and Dr. Richard Steckel) and in 2012 my participation in the NEH Summer Seminar on Health and Disease in the Middle Ages at the Wellcome Library, London, England: http://healthanddisease2012.acmrs.org/index.html(Directors: Dr. Monica Green and Dr. Rachel Scott), helped me to generate a more challenging interdisciplinary research agenda.


1. Reconstruction of host immunological status, host immune response (inflammatory phenotype (IP), and heterogeneity in frailty to acquired syphilis.

Principal and Leading Investigators:

                                                           Molly Zuckerman (Mississippi State U.)

                                                           Sharon DeWitte (University of Colorado)

                                                           Fabian Crespo (University of Louisville)

The ultimate goalof this exploratory proposal is to test the transformative integration of experimental osteoimmunology with bioarchaeology when trying to reconstruct systemic inflammatory phenotypes in humans exposed to long-lasting chronic infections that present different clinical stages, such as acquired syphilis, with the inclusion of bone markers associated with persistent infection/inflammation as a proxy for immune competence in humans.

Funded by National Science Foundation: NSF#1830154 and NSF#1946203

2. Bioarchaeology, osteoimmunology, and ecoimmunology: Linking inflammation, life history tradeoffs, and biocultural change on North Coast of Peru, 900-1750 C.E.

Principal and Leading Investigators:

                                                           Haagen Klaus (George Mason University)

                                                           Daniel Temple (George Mason University)

                                                           Fabian Crespo (University of Louisville)

This project pursues a new synthesis between three emerging fields, bioarchaeology, osteoimmunology, and ecoimmunology when reconstructing inflammatory phenotypes in past populations. This project will generate a transdisciplinary vision of human health and disease in past populations, especially when exploring the entangled biocultural drivers of disease during the complex changes between pre-Hispanic and post-contact societies in the Andes.

Funded by National Science Foundation: NSF#2316573

3. Reconstructing the immunocompetence of Medieval populations through 900 years of history from Catalunya, Spain.

The aim of this project is the study of 3 bone markers, periodontitis, periostosis, and osteoarthritis to reconstruct systemic and chronic inflammatory profiles in different populations from 3 medieval populations from Catalunya, Spain: Castell de Besora; Cal Pa I Figues; and the churches of Sant Pere de Terrassa. These medieval populations exhibit a rich and unique local sequence of historical changes over nine centuries that will allow us to study whether different social and environmental factors that could generate early life stress are associated with changes in inflammatory profiles that could explain hidden heterogeneities associated with ill health or increased mortality risk.

Principal and Leading Investigators:

                                                          Nuria Armentano (U. Autònoma de Barcelona)

                                                          Xavier Jordana (U. Autònoma de Barcelona)

                                                          Laura Castells Navarro (University of York)

                                                          Fabian Crespo (University of Louisville)

 4. Paleosyndemics: A Bioarchaeological and Biosocial Approach to Study Infectious Diseases in the Past.

This project explores a theoretical and methodological approach to articulate different disciplines such as bioarchaeology, immunology, social anthropology, history, and public health to study the emergence, duration, and end of epidemics and endemic infectious diseases in past populations. We explore a wider context and study how multiple circumstances that undermined health, social equality, and community stability differentially affected the immune competence of individuals and ultimately played a crucial role in differential survival or mortality during past infectious diseases. This project emerged as part of the international and multidisciplinary consortium based at University of Oxford: How Epidemics End

             Principal and Leading Investigators:

                                                                       Clark S. Larsen (Ohio State University)

                                                                       Fabian Crespo (University of Louisville)

RECENT PUBLICATIONS related to my current research agenda: 

2014. Reconstructing the impact of medieval plague on the immune system in human populations.
Article published in the special issue on Black Death for The Medieval Globe 

2017. Detecting inflammatory shifts and systemic inflammation in past populations: invitation for a new dialogue between immunology and bioarchaeology.
Article published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology 

2019. Exploring the hypothesis on cross-immunity between tuberculosis and leprosy.
Article published in the International Journal of Paleopathology 

2020. Exploring the integration between osteoimmunology and reconstruction of inflammatory phenotypes in skeletal samples.
Chapter published in Theoretical Approaches in Bioarchaeology 

2022. Leprosy in Medieval Europe: An immunological and syndemic approach
Chapter published in Death and Disease in the Medieval and Modern World

2022. Paleosyndemics: A bioarcaheological and biosocial approach to study infectious diseases in the past.
Article published in the Journal of the European Society for the History of Science

2023. Archaeoproteomics as a complement of paleopathological studies in human skeletal remains of Cueva de Plaza, Chubut, Argentina: scope and limitations
Article published in the Revista Argentina de Antropologia Biologica

2023. Ongoing Evolution: Are we still evolving?
Chapter published in A Companion to Biological Anthropology. 2nd Edition.


Please, contact me if you have any questions about my current projects. I will be really happy expanding my ideas and rationale for each of them. I am willing to ACCEPT UNDERGRADUATE and GRADUATE STUDENTS, contact me if you have any questions.


VISIT MY STUDENTS (Current and Former)