Jonathan W. Heusel, MD, PhD

Professor, Pathology & Immunology
Professor, Department of Genetics
Section Head, Molecular Pathology


  • Laboratory & Genomic Medicine

Additional Titles

  • Director, Clinical and Translational Genomics
  • Chief Medical Officer, Genomics and Pathology Services


  • BS in Biology: University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE (1987)
  • MD: Washington University, St. Louis, MO (1995)
  • PhD: Washington University, St. Louis, MO (1995)
  • Laboratory Medicine, Residency: Washington University, St. Louis, MO (2002)

Board Certifications

  • Missouri Medical License
  • Iowa Medical License
  • American Board of Pathology, Diplomate in Clinical Pathology
  • American Board of Pathology, Diplomate in Molecular Genetic Pathology


  • Medical Scientist Training Program, Washington University
  • Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Medical Research Fellowship, Washington University
  • Howard Hughes Postdoctoral Research Fellowship for Physicians
  • Trainee Travel Award, Joint Meeting of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians
  • Best Poster Award, Joint Meeting of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Biomedical Research Support Program – Junior
  • Faculty Development Award, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
  • University of Iowa Biosciences Initiative-Junior Faculty Development Award 2002
  • Elected Fellow of the College of American Pathologists
  • Laboratory-based Graduate Student Teaching Award 2006-2007, University of Iowa Department of Pathology
  • Finalist (2nd place), CLARITY Challenge Clinical Genomics Competition, University of Iowa Reporting and Counseling team

Clinical Interests

  • Molecular Genetic Pathology

Research Interests

My research interests include innovate in assay design and bioinformatical analysis methodology, and then translate these discoveries and improvements in genomic medicine testing into healthcare solutions.

I am an active investigator of cellular immunity to viral infection. My research is focused on the molecular mechanisms of natural killer cell activation, and in particular, the polymorphic receptors of the Ly49 and killer immunoglobulin (KIR) families that bind major histocompatibility class I and related ligands.

Selected Publications

Heusel JW, Hanson RD, Silverman GA, Ley TJ: Structure and expression of a cluster of human hematopoietic serine protease genes found on chromosome 14 q11.2. J Biol Chem 1991: 266: 6152-8 PMID: 2007574
Heusel JW, Scarpati EM, Jenkins NA, Gilbert DJ, Copeland NA, Shapiro SD, Ley TJ: Molecular cloning, chromosomal localization, and tissue-specific expression of the murine cathepsin G gene. Blood 1993: 81: 1614-1623 PMID: 8453108
Heusel JW, Wesselschmidt RL, Shresta S, Russell JH, Ley TJ: Cytotoxic lymphocytes require granzyme B for the rapid induction of DNA fragmentation and apoptosis in allogeneic target cells. Cell 1994: 76: 977-987 PMID: 8137431
Shresta S, MacIvor DM, Heusel JW, Russell JH, Ley TJ: Natural killer and lymphokine-activated killer cells require granzyme B for the rapid induction of DNA fragmentation and apoptosis in susceptible target cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1995: 92: 5679-5683. PMID: 7777569, PMCID:PMC41760
Shresta S, Heusel JW, MacIvor DM, Wesselschmidt RL, Russell JH, Ley TJ: Granzyme B plays a critical role in cytotoxic lymphocyte-induced apoptosis. Immunol Rev 1995: 146: 211-221 PMID: 7493755
Pham CTN, MacIvor DM, Hug BA, Heusel JW, Ley TJ: Long range disruption of gene expression by a PGK-Neo cassette. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1996: 93: 13090-13095. PMID:8917549 , PMCID:PMC24051
Ho EL*, Heusel JW*, Brown MG, Matsumoto K, Scalzo AA, Yokoyama WM: Murine Nkg2d and Cd94 are clustered within the natural killer complex and are expressed independently in natural killer cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1998: 95: 6320-6325. PMID: 9600963, PMCID:PMC27675
Scalzo AA, Brown MG, Chu DT, Heusel JW, Yokoyama WY, and Forbes CA. Development of intra-natural killer complex (NKC) recombinant and congenic mouse strains for mapping and functional analysis of NK cell regulatory loci. Immunogenetics 1999: 49: 238-41. PMID:9914339 (no PMCID)
Smith HR, Chuang HH, Wang LL, Salcedo M, Heusel JW, and Yokoyama WM: Nonstochastic coexpression of activation receptors on murine natural killer cells. J Exp Med 2000: 191: 1341- 1354. PMCID: 10770801, PMC219313213
Brown MG*, Dokun AO*, Heusel JW, Smith HRC, Beckman DL, Blattenberger EA, Dubblede CE, Stone LR, Scalzo AA, Yokoyama, WM: Vital involvement of a natural killer cell receptor in resistance to viral infection. Science 2001: 292: 934-937. PMID:11340207 (no PMCID)
Smith HR*, Heusel JW*, Mehta IK, Beckman DL, Pingel JT, and Yokoyama WM. Recognition of a virus-encoded ligand by a natural killer cell activation receptor. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2002 June 25; 99 (13):8826-31. PMID: 12060703, PMCID: PMC124383
 Davis AH, Guseva NV, Ball BL, Heusel JW. Characterization of murine cytomegalovirus m157 from infected cells and identification of critical residues mediating recognition by the NK cell receptor, Ly49H. J Immunol. 2008 Jul 1; 181(1):265-75. PMID: 18566392, PMCID: PMC2507881
 Guseva NV, Fullenkamp C, Naumann P and Heusel JW. Glycosylation contributes to variability in expression of MCMV m157 and enhances stability of interaction with the NK cell receptor, Ly49H. Eur J Immunol., 2010 Sep; 40(9):2618-31. PMID 20662096; PMCID: PMC3070389
Schmidt NW, Khanolkar A, Hancox L, Heusel JW, and Harty JT. Perforin plays an unexpected role in regulating T-cell contraction during prolonged Listeria monocytogenes infection. Eur J Immunol., 2012 Mar; 42(3):629-40. PMID: 22161269, PMCID: PMC3418886
Ballas ZK, Buchta CM, Rosean TR, Heusel JW, and Shey MR. Role of NK cell subsets in organ- specific melanoma metastasis. PLoS One 2013: 8(6): e65599. PMID: 23776508, PMCID: PMC3679158
Brownstein CA, Beggs AH, Homer N, Merriman B, et al.  An International Effort Toward Developing Standards for Best Practices in Analysis, Interpretation and Reporting of Clinical Genome Sequencing Results: The CLARITY Challenge. 2014 Genome Biol 2014: Mar 25;15(3):R53. PMID: 24667040, PMCID: PMC4073084
Alhajjat AM, Strong BS, Lee AE, Turner LE, Wadhwani RK, Ortaldo JR, Heusel JW, Shaaban, AF. Prenatal allospecific NK cell tolerance hinges on instructive allorecognition through the activating receptor during development. J Imkmunol. 2015 Aug 15; 195(4)L 1506-18. Epub 2015 July b1. PMID: 26136432, PMCID: PMC4574102
Strong BS, Ryken KO, Lee AE, Turner LE, Wadhwani RK, Newkold TJ, Alhajjat AM, Heusel JW, Shaaban AF. Prenatal allogeneic tolerance in mice remains stable despite potent viral immune activation. J Immunjol. 2015 Oct 15; 195(8):401-9. Epub 2015 Sept 11. PMID: 26363051, PMCID: PMC4592829
Olfson E, Cottrell CE, Davidson NO, Gurnett CA, Heusel JW, Stitziel NO, Chen LS, Hartz S, Nagarajan R, Saccone NL, Bierut, LJ. Identification of medically actionable secondary findings in the 1000 Genomes. PLoS One. 2015 Sept 2l 10(9):e0135193. eCollection 2015. PMID: 26332594, PMCID: PMC4558085

Lori Scantlan