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Juan Pablo de Rivero Vaccari, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery


Juan Pablo de Rivero Vaccari, Ph.D.
Juan Pablo de Rivero Vaccari, Ph.D.

Dr. de Rivero Vaccari is currently a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery & The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami – Miller School of Medicine. He has studied the innate immune response for 14 years, and was the first to show the involvement of the inflammasome in vivo in a sterile event, particularly after spinal cord injury.  He has also contributed to studies of the innate immune response following brain injury, stroke, aging, multiple sclerosis, depression, sciatic nerve pain, Alzheimer’s disease, male infertility, male pattern baldness, wound healing, disc degeneration and corneal degeneration. In addition, he has carried out biomarker research on stroke, spinal cord and brain injury, multiple sclerosis, depression and mild cognitive impairment.

Dr. de Rivero Vaccari graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in Biology from Florida International University where he was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society (2004). He then pursued his Ph.D. in Physiology & Biophysics at the University of Miami in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Keane (2007) and his post-doctoral fellowship in Neurotrauma at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis in the laboratory of Dr. Dalton Dietrich (2010). In addition, he has trained on Biomarker Science at the Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center and on Computational Immunology at the Santa Fe Institute. He is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree on Business Analytics at the Miami Business School of the University of Miami.

Dr. de Rivero Vaccari is also a managing member of InflamaCORE, LLC., an Associate Editor for the Journal Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience and has served as an ad hocreviewer for over 60 different scientific journals. He has co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed articles, and his work has been cited over 3,000 times.  

Research Interests

My research focuses on understanding early inflammatory events corresponding to the innate immune response, the first line of defense against tissue damage and infections.

The immune response is divided into two phases: Innate immunity and adaptive immunity. The innate immune phase corresponds to the early events of the inflammatory response and precedes the adaptive immune phase.  It is classically defined as the first line of defense against infections or damage. It is initiated by danger/damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) or by pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) that are recognized by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). DAMPs are endogenous ligands such as ATP, DNA or RNA, whereas PAMPs include exogenous activators like bacterial lipopolysaccharide or bacterial flagellin.

PRRs include toll-like receptors (TLRs), NOD-like receptors (NLRs), RIG-like receptors (RLRs) and C-type lectin receptors (CLRs). Upon PRR-activation, there are a series of signaling events that result in the production of inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1b, IL-18, TNF, IFNa or IFNb, among others. These cytokines contribute to tissue damage by mechanisms such as cell death and exacerbated inflammatory mechanisms.

INFLAMMASOMES: Of particular interest to us is the role of the inflammasome, a multiprotein complex involved in the activation of caspase-1 and the processing of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1b and IL-18. We have previously shown that the inflammasome is activated after spinal cord injury (de Rivero Vaccari et al. J Neurosci 2008) and brain injury (de Rivero Vaccari et al. J Cereb Blood Flow & Metab 2009). Accordingly, we have shown that the inflammasome can be inhibited in order to improve histopathological and functional outcomes after CNS injury by decreasing the inflammatory response (de Rivero Vaccari et al. 2016).

BIOMARKERS: We study biomarkers as therapeutic and diagnostic options that can be eventually used as therapeutic targets to improve outcomes after CNS injury and disease. The development of biomarkers for CNS injury and disease will be useful to determine the severity of damage to the CNS as well as the recovery potential. The predictive value of biomarkers early in SCI pathology is relevant in choosing a particular neuroprotective treatment in the acute phase. Therefore, an early and accurate diagnostic test designed to target neuroprotective strategies is a desirable prognostic tool.

My laboratory studies the innate immune response in the following conditions:

Spinal Cord Injury (SCI): With a yearly incidence of approximately 12,000 new cases, considering that many patients with SCI are young adults, and that no-FDA approved therapy is yet available, SCI is devastating. The inflammatory response is part of the secondary injury cascade of SCI events and is partially responsible for the deleterious effects occurring after trauma.

Stroke: Stroke is a major problem affecting populations worldwide. It is the second most common cause of death in the world after heart disease. In the United States stroke is the fourth leading cause of death, and the societal costs are approximately 80 billion dollars, which are expected to double by the year 2030. As a result, it is important to identify new and better therapies aimed at successfully treating this patient population.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of disability in young adults, affecting approximately 5.3 million Americans. The inflammatory response after TBI contributes to neuronal death and progressive axonal loss over days to weeks after injury.

Inflammaging: As we age our brain develops an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response in part contributes to the cognitive decline associated with aging. Moreover, it also contributes to the development of neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s Disease.


Juan Pablo de Rivero Vaccari, Ph.D.

  • The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis
    1095 NW 14th Terrace (R-48)
    Miami, FL 33136
  • (305) 243-1252

Find out about the Laboratory of Juan Pablo de Rivero Vaccari



Industry and Academia: Inflamacore, LLC (10/19/2016)

Research Journal Feature (09/01/2016)

Dr. Dalton Dietrich and Colleagues Receive $1.6 Million NIH Award (06/30/2016)

Scientists Receive NIH Funding to Move Novel Therapy Targets Forward (04/09/2014)


Alzheimer’s Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment (ISTAART)




  1. Compositions and Methods for Detecting Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease
    US: 63/016,033 (Provisional)
  2. Compositions and Methods for Detecting Mild Cognitive Impairment
    US: 62/877,118 (Provisional)
  3. Methods and Compositions for Treating Multiple Sclerosis
    US: 16/026,482 (Pending) (07/03/2018)
  4. Method for Detecting Inflammasome Proteins as Biomarkers of Neurological Disorders
    US: 62/560,963 (Pending) (09/20/2018)
    Canada: CA3076365 (Pending) (09/20/2018)
  5. Methods of modulating inflammasome activity and inflammation in the lung
    US: 16/474,708 (Pending) (12/28/2017)
    Canada: CA3048864 (Pending) (12/28/2017)
    Europe: EP3562506 (Pending) (12/28/2017)
    Brazil:BR112019013463 (Pending) (12/28/2017)
    Australia: AU2017386550 (Pending) (12/28/2017)
    Japan: JP2020503345 (Pending) (12/28/2017)
    China: CN110461356 (12/28/2017)
    South Korea: KR20200013630 (12/28/2017)
    Israel: IL267685 (06/26/2019)
    Philippines PH12019501549 (07/01/2019)
    Colombia CO2019008087 (07/25/2019)
  6. Methods of modulating inflammasome activity to treat inflammatory conditions
    US:15/337,265 (Pending) (10/28/2016)
  7. Innate Immune Proteins as Biomarkers for CNS Injury
    US: 15/214,868 (Pending) (07/20/2016)
    Europe: EP2812697 (Active: 02/06/2033)  (02/06/2013)
    Japan: JP6170071 (Active: 02/06/2033) (02/06/2013)
    Canada: CA2863417 (Pending) (02/06/2013)
    Spain: ES2630905 (Active: 02/06/2033) (02/06/2013)
  8. Methods of Modulating Inflammasome Activity to treat Inflammatory Conditions
    US: 9/512,209 (Active: 09/05/2028) (03/19/2014)
  9. Modulating Inflammasome Activity and Inflammation in Central Nervous System Injury
    US: 8/685,400 (Active: 01/04/2030) (07/30/2008)