Idali Martinez, Ph. D

Educational Background:

  • BS Industrial Microbiology UPR-Mayaguez Campus 1990
  • MS Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Rutgers University 1993
  • PhD Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Rutgers University 1995

Academic Position:

Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Medical Zoology
Associate Investigator, Caribbean Primate Research Center

Academic Address, Telephone & E-Mail:

Dept. of Microbiology, Room A-355
UPR-Medical Sciences Campus
PO Box 365067
San Juan, PR 00936-5067
Phone: (787) 758-2525, ext 1447 (office) and 1354 (lab)
Fax: (787) 758-4808
E-mail: idali.martinez@upr.edu

Field of Interest

Infection with Dengue viruses (DENV) has become a major public health problem in the tropics and an emerging threat for the United States. There are 4 serotypes of this virus that cause diseases ranging widely in severity, from self-limited dengue fever (DF) to potentially fatal dengue hemorrhagic fever-dengue shock syndrome (DHF/DSS). Currently, no licensed vaccine is available to prevent DENV infections. Thus, the main goal of our laboratory is to develop an effective tetravalent DENV vaccine. Toward this effort, we have developed expression vectors encoding prM/env genes of all four DENV serotypes. Several of these vectors have been tested as vaccine candidates in mice and one vaccine candidate was also evaluated in non-human primates. We are currently evaluating vaccine candidates against DENV-1 and DENV-3. We also attempt to identify biomarkers for the early detection of patients at risk of developing DHF.

Upon the introduction of West Nile virus (WNV) in the Americas and the Caribbean, we initiated a pilot study to test if prior immunity to DENV can protect Balb/c mice against morbidity and mortality induced by West Nile virus (WNV) infection. If cross-protection is achieved, this project will allow us to determine the type and duration of the immune responses that may correlate with protection, which is important to improve the design of broad spectrum vaccines that could potentially protect against both pathogens, DENV and WNV.

Research Support:

  • RCMI pilot project G12RR03051, 08/01/06-07/31/08, Characterization of the immune response and outcome of sequential flavivirus infections in the mouse mode
  • R21 AI055814-01, 08-01-2003 to 07-31-2006, Evaluation Studies of a Dengue-2 DNA Vaccine in Monkeys
  • MBRS-SCORE S06-GM008224, 09-01-00 to 07-31-04, Evaluation Studies of a Dengue-2 Envelope DNA Vaccine
  • Center for Clinical Research, UPR-Medical Sciences Campus, 01/15/04 to 07/31/05, Identification of biomakers for early stages of the Dengue infection
  • Internal Caribbean Primate Research Center funding

Selected Publications

  • X. Mercado; Y. Rivera; E. Hunsperger and I. Martinez. Cross-Protection against West Nile in Dengue-immunized mice was not mediated by virus neutralizatioSubmitted to Virology
  • M.Rodriguez-Gonzalez, M.Beltran, JL.Muñoz-Jordán and I.Martínez. Polyethyleneimine Enhances the Immunogenicity of a Dengue-4 prM/Env DNA Vaccine Candidate. Submitted to Virus Research
  • M.E. Pérez-Vélez, T.García-Nieves, C.Colón-Sánchez, and I.Martínez. Induction of neutralization antibodies in mice by Dengue-2 envelope DNA vaccines. PRHSJ 28:239-250. Sept. 2009.
  • E.Román and I.Martínez. Detection of Rotavirus in stool samples of gastroenteritis patients PR Health Sci. 24:179-184, Sept 2005.
  • M.Carrer, G.J.Vázquez, R.I.Lebrón, X.Mercado, I.Martínez, C.O.Vázquez, M.Santé, and I.E.Robledo. The Microbial Etiologies of Diarrhea in Hospitalized Patients from the PR Medical Center Hospitals. PR Health Sci. J 24:41-44. 2005.
  • E.O’Neill, I.Martinez, F.Villinger, M.Rivera, S.Gascot, C.Colon, T.Arana, M.Sidhu, R.Stout, D.C.Montefiori, M.Martinez, A.A. Ansari, Z.R.Israel, E. Kraiselburd (2002). Protection by SIV VLP DNA prime/protein boost following mucosal SIV challenge is markedly enhanced by IL-12/GM-CSF co-administration. J Med Primatol, 31: 217-227.
  • I.Martínez , L.Giavedoni, and E.Kraiselburd (2001). Clone B7 Cells have a Single Copy of SIVsmB7 Integrated in Chromosome 20. Archives of Virology 146:1-7.
  • E.Kraiselburd, A.Salamán, M.Beltrán, M.Rivera, J.Oliver, M.Kessler, M.Knezevich, A.Rodriguez, M.Bilska, D.Montefiori and I.Martínez (1997). Vaccine evaluation studies of replication-defective SIVsmB7. Cell. and Mol. Biology, 43(7):915-924.