About Us

Meet the PI

Neal M. Alto, Ph.D.
Rita C. and William P. Clements, Jr. Scholar in Medical Research

Professor, Department of Microbiology

Dr. Alto received his B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. After working at the University of Utah for two years, he began graduate school at Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland Oregon. As a student in the laboratory of John Scott, Ph.D., he studied how a class of cellular anchoring proteins called AKAPs organizes kinase-based signal transduction cascades in both space and time. This work has lead to greater understanding of cellular communication systems that control brain and body functions.

Following graduate school, Dr. Alto began a postdoctoral position in the laboratory of Jack E. Dixon Ph.D., at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). There, he became interested in how bacterial pathogens hijack eukaryotic cell signaling enzymes. His work in the Dixon lab focused on a family of Type 3 Secretion System (T3SS) effector proteins that regulated Rho-family GTPase and actin cytoskeleton architecture. 

As a faculty member at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dr. Alto continues to expand his scientific program to study the intersection between microbial pathogenesis and human cell biology. His laboratory has adopted modern techniques in molecular biology, microscopy, systems biology, high-throughput screening, and biophysics to explore new and interesting scientific frontiers.