Deborah A. Kimbrell

Deborah A. Kimbrell

Position Title
Associate Research Geneticist Emerita and Lecturer

  • Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Biological Sciences

Research Interests

Innate immunity

Identification and characterization of the genes involved in the tissues and responses of the innate immune system

The evolutionary conservation of innate immunity genes

Space travel and the effects of altered gravitational fields on the immune system


Genetics with focus on training students as international scientists and citizens


  • BIS 101 Genes and Gene Expression
  • UC Davis Study Abroad Summer Program “Genetics: The Global Language of Biology”

Honors and Awards

  • UC Davis nomination for Andrew Heiskell Award for Excellence in International Education
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration Group Achievement Award, FIT Flight Project on Space Shuttle Discovery
  • Women in Science, Natural Sciences Building Art Wall and Mills Quarterly Magazine, Mills College
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration Research Program Highlights
  • Biodefense Conference on Innate Immunity, Department of Defense, National Defense University,             Washington, D.C.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Ames Research Center Honor Award, FIT Project Payload Team
  • Swedish Medical Research Council Visiting Scientist Fellow
  • American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow

Professional Societies

  • Genetics Society of America
  • American Society for Gravitational and Space Research


  • 1972 BA Honors in Biology and Psychology, Mills College
  • 1985 PhD Genetics, University of California, Berkeley


Ueira-Vieira C, Kimbrell DA, de Carvalho WJ, Leal WS. Facile functional analysis of insect odorant receptors expressed in the fruit fly: validation with receptors from taxonomically distant and closely related species. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2014; 71:4675-80.

Taylor K, Kleinhesselink K, George MD, Morgan R, Smallwood T, Hammonds AS, Fuller PM, Saelao P, Alley J, Gibbs AG, Hoshizaki DK, von Kalm L, Fuller CA, Beckingham KM, Kimbrell DA. Toll mediated infection response is altered by gravity and spaceflight in Drosophila. PLoS One. 2014; 9:e86485. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086485.

Kleinhesselink K, Conway C, Sholer D, Huang I, Kimbrell DA. Regulation of hemocytes in Drosophila requires dappled cytochrome b5. Biochem Genet. 2011; 49: 329-351.

Syed Z, Kopp A, Kimbrell DA, Leal WS. Bombykol receptors in the silkworm and the fruitfly. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010; 107:9436-9439.

Kimbrell D, George M, Fuller C, von Kalm L, Beckingham K, Hoshizaki D, Gibbs A, Alley J, Taylor K, Fuller P, Kleinhesselink K, Hammonds A, Morgan R, Smallwood T, Kloehn, A. Modeling the effects of altered gravity on the immune response using the fruit fly Drosophila. J Grav Physiol. 2008; 14: 94-96.

Taylor K and Kimbrell DA. Host immune response and differential survival of the sexes in Drosophila. Fly. 2007; 1: 197-204.

Kiger JA, Natzle JE, Kimbrell, DA, Paddy MR, Kleinhesselink K, Green, MM. Tissue remodeling during maturation of the Drosophila wing. Dev Biol. 2007; 301:178-191.

Syed Z, Ishida Y, Taylor K, Kimbrell DA, Leal, W. S. Pheromone reception in fruit flies expressing a moth's odorant receptor. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006; 103:16538-16543.

Bernal A, Schoenfeld R, Kleinhesselink K, Kimbrell DA. Loss of Thor, the single 4E-BP gene of Drosophila, does not result in lethality. Drosophila Information Service. 2004; 87:81-84.

Kimbrell DA, Hice C, Boldu, C, Kleinhesselink K, Beckingham K. The Dorothy enhancer has Tinman binding sites and drives hopscotch induced tumor formation. genesis. 2002; 34:23-28.

Kimbrell DA and Beutler B. Evolution and genetics of innate immunity. Nat Rev Genet. 2001; 2: 256-267.

Zhou Z, Rodriguez A, Wu C, Kimbrell DA. Drosophila cellular immune system: Dorothy encodes a UDP glycosyl transferase. 2001; Phylogenetic Perspectives on the Vertebrate Immune System, eds. Beck G, Sugumaran M, Cooper E, Plenum Pub Co. Adv Exp Med Biol. 484: 251-263.

Bernal A and Kimbrell DA. Drosophila Thor participates in host immune defense and connects a translational regulator with innate immunity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000; 97: 6019-6024.

Akuffo H, Hultmark D, Engström Å, Frohlich D, Kimbrell DA. Drosophila antibacterial protein, cecropin A, differentially affects non-bacterial organisms such as Leishmania in a manner different from other amphipathic peptides. Int J Mol Med. 1998; 1: 77-82.

Williams MJ, Rodriguez A, Kimbrell DA, Eldon ED. The 18-wheeler mutation reveals complex antibacterial gene regulation in the Drosophila host defense. EMBO J. 1997; 16: 6120-6130.

Zhou X, Nguyen T, Kimbrell DA. Identification and characterization of the Cecropin antibacterial protein gene locus in Drosophila virilis. J Mol Evol. 1997; 44: 272-281.

Yasothornsrikul SK, Davis WJ, Cramer G, Kimbrell DA, Dearolf CR. viking: identification and characterization of a novel type IV collagen in Drosophila. Gene 1997; 198: 17-25.

Rodriguez A, Zhou Z, Tang ML, Meller S, Chen J, Bellen H, Kimbrell DA. Identification of immune system and response genes, and novel mutations causing melanotic tumor formation in Drosophila melanogaster. Genetics 1996; 143: 929-940.

Cheah PY, Meng YB, Yang X, Kimbrell D, Ashburner M, Chia W. The Drosophila l(2)35Ba/nocA gene encodes a novel Zn-finger protein involved in the development of the embryonic brain and the adult ocellar structures. Mol Cell Biol. 1994; 14: 1487-1499.

Tresilius Y, Samakovlis C, Kimbrell DA, Hultmark D. Cec C, a cecropin gene expressed during metamorphosis in Drosophila pupae. Eur J Biochem. 1992; 204: 395-399.

Kylsten P, Kimbrell DA, Daffre S, Samakovlis C, Hultmark D. The lysozyme locus in Drosophila melanogaster; different genes are expressed in midgut and salivary glands. Mol Gen Genet 1992; 232: 335-343.

Samakovlis C, Kylsten P, Kimbrell DA, Engström Å, Hultmark D. The Andropin gene and its product, a male-specific antibacterial peptide in Drosophila melanogaster. EMBO J. 1991; 10: 163-169.

Kimbrell DA. Insect antibacterial proteins: not just for insects and against bacteria. BioEssays. 1991; 13: 657-663.

Samakovlis C, Kimbrell DA, Kylsten P, Engström Å, Hultmark D. () The immune response in Drosophila: pattern of cecropin expression and biological activity. EMBO J. 1990; 9:2969-2976.

Kimbrell DA, Tojo SJ, Alexander S, Tobin S, Fristrom JW. Regulation of larval cuticle protein gene expression in Drosophila melanogaster. Dev Genet. 1989; 10:198-209.

Kimbrell DA, Berger EB, King DS, Wolfgang W, Fristrom JW. Cuticle protein gene expression during the third instar of Drosophila melanogaster. Insect Biochem. 1988;  18: 229-235.

Chihara CJ and Kimbrell DA. The cuticle proteins of Drosophila melanogaster: Genetic localization of a second cluster of third instar genes. Genetics. 1986; 114: 393-404.

Fristrom JW, Alexander S, Brown E, Doctor J, Fechtel K, Fristrom D, Kimbrell D, King D, Wolfgang W. Ecdysone regulation of cuticle protein gene expression in Drosophila. Arch Insect Biochem Physiol Suppl. 1986; 1: 119-132.

Eissenberg JC, Kimbrell DA, Fristrom JW, Elgin SCR. (Chromatin structure at the 44D larval cuticle gene locus in Drosophila: the effect of a transposable element insertion. Nucleic Acids Res. 1984; 12: 9025-9038.

Snyder M, Kimbrell D, Hunkapiller M, Hill R, Fristrom J, Davidson N. A transposable element that splits the promoter region inactivates a Drosophila cuticle protein gene. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1982; 79: 7430-7434.