Joseph Francis

Joseph Francis


Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences

LSU School of Veterinary Medicine
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803



PhD, Kansas State University, 1999

MVSc, Madras Veterinary College (India), 1994

BVSc, Madras Veterinary College (India), 1990

Research Interest

My research interest is on understanding the role played by central nervous system cytokines in the pathophysiology of heart failure, hypertension, and renal diseases. In the last decade, I have started working on inflammatory molecules in the brain in post-traumatic stress disorder. More recently, my interest has shifted to understanding plant-based therapies in modulating cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder. I use pharmacological and non-pharmacological intervention including blueberries in my research. 

Awards & Honors

2020, Distinguished Research Scholar Award

2020, Dean’s Teacher Merit Honor Roll

2015-2020, Everett D. Besch Professor, in Veterinary Medicine  

2009, Arthur Guyton Young Investigator Award

2009, Faculty Distinguished Scholar Award

2006, Pfizer Award For Research Excellence

2003, American Heart Association Travel Award

1999 - 2002, National Research Service Award (Institutional), Dept of Internal Medicine/ Cardiovascular. University of Iowa.

1999, Phi Zeta award for best scientific presentation

1998, Travel Award, American Association of Anatomist.   

1998, Travel Award, American Physiological Society.

1998, Travel Award from the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society.


D. Parker Kelley,* Katy Venable, Aspasia Destouni, Gerald Billac, Philip Ebenezer, Krisztian Stadler, 5 Charles Nichols, Steven Barker, and Francis J. Pharmahuasca and DMT Rescue ROS Production and Differentially Expressed Genes Observed after Predator and Psychosocial Stress: Relevance to Human PTSD. ACS Chemical Neuroscience 2022.

Chaoyang Li,  Jiangwen Sun 2, Qianglin Liu, Sanjeeva Dodlapati , Hao Ming , Leshan Wang, Yuxia Li , Rui Li, Zongliang Jiang , Joseph Francis, and Xing Fu. The landscape of accessible chromatin in quiescent cardiac fibroblasts and cardiac fibroblasts activated after myocardial infarction. Epigenetics. 2021 Oct 25;1-20. doi: 10.1080/15592294.2021.1982158.

Dharmakumar R, Nair AR, Kumar A, and Francis J. Myocardial infarction and fine balance of iron. JACC Basic Transl Sci. 2021 Jul 26;6(7):581-583. PMC8326290

Reperfused hemorrhagic myocardial infarction in rats. Anand R. Nair, Eric A. Johnson, Hsin-Jung Yank, Ivan Cokic, Francis J and Rohan Dharmakumar. Plos One 2020, 15(12), 

Bonavita CM, White TM, Francis J, Cardin RD. Heart Dysfunction Following Long-Term Murine Cytomegalovirus Infection: Fibrosis, Hypertrophy, and Tachycardia. Viral Immunology, 2020. 33: 237-245. PMID 32286167

Characterization of fibrillar collagen isoforms in infarcted mouse hearts using second harmonic generation imaging. Sushant P, Qianglin Liu, Alisha Prasad, Abid Hasan, Qun Liu, Maria Bastidas, Mukhopadhyay, David Burk, Francis J, Xing Fu and Manas R. Gartia. Biomedical Optical Express, 2021 Vol 1, 604-618

Label-free Lipidome Study of Paraventricular Thalamic Nucleus (PVT) of Rat Brain with Post-Traumatic Stress Injury by Raman Imaging. Ardalan Chaichi, D. Parker Kelley, Francis J and Manas Ranjan Gartia. Chemrxiv, 2020 DOI: 10.26434/chemrxiv.12790256 (In Press) (100) Current and future functional imaging techniques for post-traumatic stress disorder. Alisha Prasad, Ardalan Chaichi, D. Parker Kelley, Francis J* and Manas Ranjan Gartia*. Royal Society of Chemistry. Adv., 2019, 9, 24568

XJ, Miao YW, Li HB, Su Q, Liu KL, Fu LY, Hou YK, Shi XL, Li Y, Mu JJ, Chen WS, Cui W, Zhu GQ, Ebenezer PJ, Francis J, Kang YM. Blockade of Endogenous Angiotensin-(1-7) in Hypothalamic Paraventricular Nucleus Attenuates High Salt-Induced Sympathoexcitation and Hypertension. Neurosci Bull. 2018 Oct 16. doi: 10.1007/s12264-018-0297-4. PMID:30328008

Wang G, Yang HJ, Kali A, Cokic I, Tang R, Xie G, Yang Q, Francis J, Li S, Dharmakumar R. Influence of Myocardial Hemorrhage on Staging of Reperfused Myocardial Infarctions With T2 Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Insights Into the Dependence on Infarction Type With Ex Vivo Validation. JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2018 Apr 14. pii: S1936-878X(18)30128-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmg.2018.01.018. [Epub ahead of print]PMID:29680356

Ogundele OM, Pardo J, Francis J, Goya RG, Lee CC. A Putative Mechanism of Age-Related Synaptic Dysfunction Based on the Impact of IGF-1 Receptor Signaling on Synaptic CaMKIIα Phosphorylation. Front Neuroanat. 2018 May 14;12:35. PMID:29867375

AR Nair, N Mariappan, AJ Stull, J Francis. Blueberry supplementation attenuates oxidative stress within monocytes and modulates immune cell levels in adults with metabolic syndrome: a randomized, double blinded study. Food & function 8 (11), 4118-4128, 2017

Ogundele OM, Philip Ebenezer, Lee CC, Francis J. Stress altered synaptic plasticity and DAMP signaling in the hippocampus-PFC axis; elucidating the significance of IGF-1/IGF-1R/CaMKIIα expression in neural changes associated with a prolonged exposure therapy.  Neuroscience, 353: 04.008, 2017

Ogundele OM, Fernando A. Rosa, Rohan Dharmakumar, Charles C. Lee, Joseph Francis. Systemic Sympathoexcitation Was Associated with Paraventricular Hypothalamic Phosphorylation of Synaptic CaMKIIα and MAPK/ErK. Front Neurosci. 2017; 11: 447. Published online 2017 (PMCID5541931)


1P20 GM135000-01A1, PI- Joseph Francis, 01/01/2021 -12/31/2025, 3.0 calendar months, Center for Pre-Clinical Cancer Research, The Center for Pre-Clinical Cancer Research (Cancer COBRE) aims to identify clinically relevant mechanisms of human cancer disease using models that closely reflect the disease state in the context of the tumor microenvironment.

T35OD01151, PI-Joseph Francis, 02/2021-07/2024, Title: Biomedical Research Experience for Veterinary Medical Students, The purpose is this grant is to introduce veterinary medical students to biomedical research during summer of each year.  This program was first funded in 2003 and has been successfully renewed several times over the life of this grant.

NIH 1R01-HL147133-01, Multi-PI; Joseph Francis and Rohan Dharmakumar, 5/2020 - 3/2024, 2.0 calendar, Title: Mechanistic Insights to a Translatable Therapy for Acute Reperfused Hemorrhagic Myocardial Infarctions, Goal: To develop an overarching mechanistic framework and a therapeutic strategy which can mitigate the adverse effects of hemorrhagic myocardial infarctions.

NIH 1R01-HL157519-01A1, PI: Xing Fu, Co-Investigator Joseph Francis, 12/2021 - 11/2026, 1.0 calendar, Title: The function of Runx1 in cardiac fibroblast. The goal of the project is to elucidate the role played by Runx1 in myocardial remodeling in heart failure. Role: Co-Investigator

NIH-R03 - R03NS122892, PI Charles Lee, Co-Investigator Joseph Francis, 01-Jun-2021 - 31-May-2023, Title: Chronic heart failure in forebrain circuit dementias

US Highbush Blueberry Council, PI: Joseph Francis, direct cost 188K, 6/15/2018 to 06/01/2022, Title: Effect of whole blueberry powder consumption on depression: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study.

US Highbush Blueberry Council, PI: Joseph Francis, direct cost 244K, 7/1/2019 to 12/31/2022, Title: Effect of Whole blueberry powder consumption on Chronic kidney disease with diabetic nephropathy: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. The major goal of this project is to determine whether whole blueberry consumption protect against diabetic nephropathy in chronic kidney disease patients.

Completed Grants

American Heart Association: 16GRNT30510012 (PI: Joseph Francis), Grant-in-Aid 07/01/016-06/30/2018, Title:  Role of HMGB1 in hypertensive response. 

US Highbush Blueberry Council (PI: Joseph Francis- direct cost 110K), 6/15/2016 to 6/14/2017, Title: Exploring the beneficial effect of blueberry in horse.

Kessler Air Force Base, Mississippi (PI: Joseph Francis, Total direct cost $106,085), Title: Identifying stressors of flight using preclinical model of Post-traumatic stress disorder. Funded: 05/01/14 to 5/30/2017. The goal of this project is to examine whether resting of PTSD animals protect against of stressor of flight in animal model of PTSD.

US Highbush Blueberry Council (PI: Joseph Francis- direct cost 74K), Funded: 6/01/2015 to 5/30/2017, Title: Role of blueberries in modulating neurotransmitter and SKA2 (suicide) gene in animal model of PTSD. The goal of this project is to understand the mechanism by which blueberries modulates neurotransmitters in animal model of post- traumatic stress disorders.

NIH NHLBI  R01 HL115208-01A1 (PI Teruyama, Ryoichi) Collaborating Investigator Joseph Francis (10% effort),  Funded: 04/05/13 to 03/31/2017, Title: Epithelial Sodium Channels in Vasopressin and Oxytocin Synthesizing Magnocellular Cells in the Hypothalamus. In this grant we are examining the effect of salt on epithelial sodium channels in vasopressin and oxytocin synthesizing magnocellular neurons in the PVN and SON.  My role is measuring blood pressure and intra cerebroventricular infusion of drugs in salt sensitive model of hypertension.

US department of defense (PI: Joseph Francis, total cost 225K/yr) Funded: 8/1/2014 to 9/31/2016, Title: Inflammation, Oxidative Stress, and Neuroprotective Mechanisms in the Pathophysiology of PTSD in an Animal Model: Blueberries and Exercise as Possible Therapeutic Approaches. The goal of this project is to elucidate whether oxidative stress and inflammation contributes to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).