Associate Professor of Biology and Department Chair
Phone: (805) 565-6873
Office Location: Whittier Science 127
Mechanisms of infectious disease
After graduating from Westmont, Dr. Steve Julio went on to earn his doctorate at UC Santa Barbara, where he studied bacterial pathogenesis. His Ph.D. dissertation described the role of a DNA-modifying enzyme, called Dam, in the virulence of two important human pathogens, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis (a relative of the bacterium that causes plague) and Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of cholera. Significantly, he found that Yersinia strains with altered expression of Dam served as effective vaccines in mice. Dr. Julio spent the next two years as a research scientist at Remedyne, a start-up biotechnology company focused on the development of cancer vaccines. He returned to UCSB in 2003 to study the human respiratory pathogen Bordetella, which causes whooping cough. In these studies, Dr. Julio investigated the functions of a surface-expressed protein called FHA, which is critically involved in the ability of Bordetella to colonize the respiratory tract as well as to modulate the host’s immune response.
Dr. Julio joined the Westmont faculty in 2006, where he is continuing his study of Bordetella pathogenesis. Using a combination of genetics, biochemistry, and animal models of disease, he is interested in further characterizing the mechanism by which FHA, and FHA-like proteins, facilitate the bacteria’s ability to colonize the respiratory tract and modulate host immunity. Additionally, Dr. Julio is interested in understanding the mechanisms underlying host specificity, or why some Bordetella strains can infect a wide variety of mammals but others are restricted to infecting humans exclusively. Dr. Julio teaches Introductory Biology (BIO-006), Physiology (BIO-102), Molecular Biology (BIO-132), and a literature seminar (BIO-195). He and his wife, Cheryl, have four daughters. Cheryl is also a Westmont alum and teaches math at Santa Barbara High School.