Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Rolando Garza

M.D./Ph.D. Student

Rolando Garza is a graduate student in the South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD Program) studying humoral immunity and parasitology under the mentorship of Dr. Evelien Bunnik, Ph.D. For his research, Rolando is studying antibody responses against P. falciparum, with particular focus on the previously uncharacterized P. falciparum protein, Pf3D7_1136200. In addition to his immunology projects, Rolando is working on determining the function of Pf3D7_1136200 in P. falciparum biology. This work will help guide vaccine development against P. falciparum malaria. For his clinical specialty, Rolando is considering pursuing either neurology or infectious disease.

About Me

I was born and raised in a little town southwest of San Antonio and did my undergraduate education at the University of Texas at San Antonio. I went on to do my post baccalaureate work at the University of Pennsylvania before coming to the STX-MSTP. My research focus are immunology and infectious disease. I have two dogs named Charlie and Gretchen who are super spoiled. I play the electric bass in a rock cover band and enjoy practicing electric guitar in my free time. I enjoy bouldering, jogging, and hiking, however, my favorite pass time is trying different foods!


Playing electric guitar, playing video games, bouldering, jogging.

Research Topic

Immunology, infectious disease, antibodies, vaccines.

Why I chose MD/PhD

I choose to do an MD/PhD so that I could help a local patient population while making a greater impact in the scientific community.

Why I chose MD/PhD at UT Health San Antonio

The STX-MSTP made me feel at home and the faculty were very supportive. It was a program that truly seemed to care about its students.

Post-bac work or other affiliations

University of Pennsylvania Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP)


B.S., Biology, University of Texas San Antonio, 2016


Gonzales SJ, Clarke K, Batugedara G, Garza R, Braddom AE, Reyes RA, et al. (2022). A comparative analysis of memory B cell and antibody responses against Plasmodium falciparum merozoite surface protein 1 in children and adults from Uganda. Frontiers in Immunology,

Reyes RA, Clarke K, Gonzales SJ, Cantwell AM, Garza R, et al. (2021). SARS-CoV-2 spike-specific memory B cells express higher levels of T-bet and FcRL5 after non-severe COVID-19 as compared to severe disease. PLOS ONE, e0261656.

Garcia-Mesa Y, Xu HN, Vance P, Gruenewald AL, Garza R, Midkiff C, Alvarez-Hernandez X, Irwin DJ, Gill AJ, Kolson DL. (2021) Dimethyl Fumarate, an Approved Multiple Sclerosis Treatment, Reduces Brain Oxidative Stress in SIV-Infected Rhesus Macaques: Potential Therapeutic Repurposing for HIV Neuroprotection. Antioxidants.; 10(3):416.

Garcia-Mesa Y., Garza R., Diaz-Ortiz M., Gruenewald A., Bastien B., Lobrovich R., Irwin D., Betts M., Silvestri G., and Kolson DL. (2020). Regional brain recovery from acute synaptic injury in SIV-infected rhesus macaques associates with heme oxygenase isoform expression. J Virology, 94(19):e01102-20.

Gruenewald, A.L., Garcia-Mesa, Y., Gill, A.J. Garza R, et al. (2020) Neuroinflammation associates with antioxidant heme oxygenase-1 response throughout the brain in persons living with HIV. J. Neurovirol. 26, 846–862.

Garza, R., Gill, A.J., Bastien BL., et al. (2020). Heme oxygenase-1 promoter (GT)n polymorphism associates with HIV neurocognitive impairment Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm May, 7 (3) e710; DOI: 10.1212/NXI.0000000000000710

Gill, A.J., Garza, R., Ambegaokar, S.S. et al. (2018). Heme oxygenase-1 promoter region (GT)n polymorphism associates with increased neuroimmune activation and risk for encephalitis in HIV infection. J Neuroinflammation 15, 70.

Mendiola AS, Garza R, Cardona SM, Mythen SA, Lira SA, Akassoglou K and Cardona AE (2017) Fractalkine Signaling Attenuates Perivascular Clustering of Microglia and Fibrinogen Leakage during Systemic Inflammation in Mouse Models of Diabetic Retinopathy. Front. Cell. Neurosci. 10:303. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2016.00303