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Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz, PhD

Assistant Professor, BMS
(602) 827-2247
(602) 827-6386 (lab)
(602) 827-2257
UA Office Building and Room : 
ABC1 Bldg., Room 330
425 N. 5th Street, 3rd Floor, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Post-Doctoral, The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, 2006-2008 Emphasis: Mucosal Vaccine Development
PhD, Experimental Pathology Program, University of Texas Medical Branch, 2006

Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz is currently the Oncology Block Director at The UA COM-Phx campus (2014-present).

Hematology and Oncology Block Director at The UA COM-Phx campus (2010-2014).


Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz’s research lab is broadly interested in understanding innate mucosal immune responses to resident bacteria, pathogens (e.g HSV-2), and microbial products at mucosal sites, including the female reproductive tract. She has a long-standing interest and background in studying infections that impact in women’s health.

The mucosa provides a major immune barrier (physical, biological, and chemical) to microbial insult and her lab is interested in studying the mucosal barrier function of the lower female reproductive tract and its role in host defense against infection and inflammation as well as maintaining mucosal homeostasis. 

Vaginal microbiota play a key role in maintaining homeostasis, as such, understanding this complex interplay in the female reproductive tract is critically important.  Areas of study in the Herbst-Kralovetz lab include host-microbe interactions, immunobiology and the impact of innate immune mediators, including antimicrobial peptides throughout the female reproductive tract, which is widely relevant to infection, immunity, reproduction and even cancer.

Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz’s lab is currently utilizing an innovative rotating wall vessel bioreactor to produce robust, differentiated and reproducible human mucosal epithelial models for elucidating host-microbe interactions and studying potential interventions (vaccines and microbicides). 

In addition, her current work involves the preclinical evaluation of a mucosally-delivered norovirus VLP-based vaccine and testing novel mucosal adjuvants. For more information please see a list of her recent publications below.

Video Link: Research: Unlocking Mysteries in Women's Health - 

Selected Publications

  Search PubMed for a complete listing of Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz's publications:

  1. Yarbrough VL, Winkle S, Herbst-Kralovetz MM. Antimicrobial peptides in the female reproductive tract: a critical component of the mucosal immune barrier with physiological and clinical implications. Hum Reprod Update. 2014 Dec 29. pii: dmu065. [Epub ahead of print] Review. PMID: 25547201
  2. Herbst-Kralovetz MM. Overcoming barriers in the mucosal delivery of virus-like particle-based vaccines. Ther Deliv. 2014 Jul;5(7):741-4. doi: 10.4155/tde.14.52. No abstract available. PMID: 25287380
  3. *Mathew, LG,  *Herbst-Kralovetz, MM and H. S. Mason. Norovirus Narita 104 Virus-Like Particles Expressed in Nicotiana benthamiana Induce Serum and Mucosal Immune Responses. BioMed Research International, vol. 2014, Article ID 807539, 9 pages. 2014 doi:10.1155/2014/807539.  *authors contributed equally to work.
  4. Doerflinger SY, Throop AL, Herbst-Kralovetz MM.  Bacteria in the Vaginal Microbiome Alter the Innate Immune Response and Barrier Properties of the Human Vaginal Epithelia in a Species-Specific Manner.  J Infect Dis. 2014 Feb 12. 
    PMID: 24403560
  5. Hjelm BE, Kilbourne J, Herbst-Kralovetz MM.  TLR7 and 9 agonists are highly effective mucosal adjuvants for norovirus virus-like particle vaccines.  Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2013. Nov 26;10(3) PMID: 24280723
  6. Herbst-Kralovetz, M.M., Radtke, A.L., et al. Lack of norovirus replication and histo-blood group antigen expression in three-dimensional intestinal epithelial cell cultures. Emerg Infect Dis. (2013). Mar;19(3):431-8. PMID: 23622517
  7. C. L. McGowin, A. Radtke, K. Abraham D.L. Martin, and M.M. Herbst-Kralovetz. Mycoplasma genitalium infection activates cellular host defense and inflammation pathways in a 3-D human endocervical epithelial cell model.  J Infect Dis. 2013 Jun;207(12):1857-68. PMID: 23493725
  8. Radtke,A.L., A.J. Quayle, M.M. Herbst-Kralovetz. Microbial products alter the expression of membrane-associated mucin and antimicrobial peptides in a 3-D human endocervical epithelial cell model. Biology of Reproduction, 2012. Dec 6;87(6):132..  PMID: 23053434.
  9. Jackson, E. and M.M. Herbst-Kralovetz. Intranasal vaccination with murabutide enhances humoral and mucosal immune responses to a virus-like particle vaccine. PLoS One.  2012;7(7): e41529. Epub 2012 Jul 25. PMID: 22855691
  10. Radtke, AL and M.M. Herbst-Kralovetz. Culturing and applications of rotating wall vessel bioreactor derived 3D epithelial cell models. J Vis Exp. 2012 Apr 3;(62). PMID: 22491366
  11. Phoolcharoen, W., Dye, J.M., Kilbourne, J., Piensook, K., Pratt, W.D., Arntzen, C.A., Mason, H., and M.M., Herbst-Kralovetz.  Ebola immune complex co-delivered with poly (I:C) protects mice against lethal Ebola challenge. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Dec 20;108(51):20695-700. PMID: 22143779
  12. Mason HS and M. Herbst-Kralovetz.  Plant-derived antigens as mucosal vaccines. In: Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology; Mucosal Vaccines: Modern Concepts, Strategies, and Challenges (Kozlowski, PA, ed.) Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2011 Aug 3. [Epub ahead of print]  PMID: 21811930
  13. Velasquez, L., Shira, S., Berta, AN., Kilbourne, J., Medi, BM., Tizard, I., Ni, Y., Arntzen, C. and M.M. Herbst-Kralovetz.  Intranasal delivery of Norwalk virus-like particles formulated in an in situ gelling, dry powder vaccine.  Vaccine.  2011 Jul 18;29(32):5221-31.  PMID: 21640778 
  14. Velasquez, L., Hjelm, B., Arntzen, C. and M.M. Herbst-Kralovetz.  2010.  An intranasally delivered TLR7 agonist elicits robust systemic and mucosal responses to Norwalk virus-like particles.  Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2010 Dec;17(12):1850-8. PMID: 20962211
  15. Herbst-Kralovetz, Melissa M, Mason, HS and Q. Chen.  2010. Norwalk Virus-like Particles as Vaccines.  Expert Reviews In Vaccines.  9:299-307.  PMID: 1020218858
  16. Barrila, J., Radtke, A., Crabbe, A., Sarker, S., Herbst-Kralovetz, M., Ott, M and C.A. Nickerson.  2010. Organotypic 3D cell culture models: using the rotating wall vessel to study host-pathogen interactions. Nature Reviews Microbiology.  11:791-801.  PMID:  20948552
  17. Hjelm, B., Berta, A., Nickerson, C., Arntzen, C. and M.M. Herbst-Kralovetz.  2010.  Development and Characterization of a 3-D Model of Human Vaginal Epithelia for Microbicide Screening. Biology of Reproduction.  82:617-627.  PMID:  20007410
  18. Herbst-Kralovetz, Melissa M. Greene, S., Quayle, A.J., and R.B. Pyles.  2008.  Quantification of Toll-like Receptor Expression and Responsiveness in the Human Female Lower Genital Tract Epithelia.  American Journal of Reproductive Immunology.  59:212-24.  PMID: 18201283
  19. Herbst-Kralovetz, Melissa M. and Richard B. Pyles.  2006.  Quantification of Poly I:C-Mediated Protection against Genital Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Infection.  Journal of Virology.  80:9988-9997.  PMID: 17005677
  20. Herbst-Kralovetz, Melissa M. and R.B. Pyles.  2006.  Toll-like Receptors, Innate Immunity and Herpes Simplex Virus Pathogenesis.  Herpes.  13:37-41.  PMID: 16895653
  21. Green, R., M.M. Herbst, and T. Schountz.  2004. Genomic Organization of Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) Tumor Necrosis Factor.  Bios. 75:12-17.
  22. Herbst, Melissa M. and Richard B. Pyles.  2003. Immunostimulatory CpG Treatment for Genital HSV-2 Infections. J Antimicrob Chemother.  52:887-9.  PMID: 14585849
  23. Herbst, Melissa M., Prescott, J., Palmer, AD., and T. Schountz.  2002.  Sequence and Expression Analysis of Deer Mouse Interferon-gamma, Interleukin 10, Tumor Necrosis Factor and Lymphotoxin-alpha.  Cytokine. 17: 203-13.