Old ITP News

Summer 2012

  • Tom Kepler is the Director of the Computational Biology Scientific Resource Support Center for the new Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology-Immunogen Discovery (CHAVI-ID) awarded by the NIAID to Duke University in July.
    • From the website:  (http://chavi-id-duke.org/home): The Computational Biology SRSC is led by Thomas Kepler, PhD of the Boston University School of Medicine and includes Bette Korber, PhD and Alan Perelson, PhD of Los Alamos National Laboratory. The goals of the Duke CHAVI-ID consortium are to overcome the roadblocks to HIV-1 vaccine development, which include the diversity of HIV-1 and the inability to induce broad neutralizing antibodies (BnAbs). Therefore, this SRSC will support the B cell lineage immunogen design efforts and the new mosaic T and B cell immunogen design efforts of the Duke CHAVI-ID consortium using specialized statistical analyses of the dynamics of the antibody repertoire, intra-subject virus evolution, and computational immunogen design.
  • Krishna Moody was awarded an NRSA fellowship.   The title of the grant is: “Modulation of Autoantigen Trafficking and TLR engagement by FcgRIIB and AP3B1.  It is an F31 awarded through NIAMS.
  • Hans Dooms published a paper: Penaranda, C., Kuswanto, W., Hofmann, J., Kenefeck, R., Narendran, P., Walker, L.S.K., Bluestone,    J.A.B., Abbas, A. K.A., and Dooms, H., IL-7 receptor blockade reverses autoimmune diabetes by promoting inhibition of effector/memory T cells Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2012, 109: 12668-126732.
    • The paper was highlighted in:
      • IL-7 receptor α blockade, an off-switch for autoreactive T cells. Boettler T, von Herrath M. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jul 31;109:12270-1.
      • Nature Reviews  Drug Discovery 11, 599 (August 2012) | doi:10.1038/nrd3805 Autoimmune disease: Targeting IL-7 reverses type 1 diabetes
      • SciBX vol. 5/number 29, July 26, 2012. Taming T cells in T1D.

June/July 2012

  • 3 new faculty were appointed to ITP: Tom Kelpler, Matt Jones, and Hans Dooms. Stay tuned for their faculty pages on our website.
  • Munir Mosaheb finished his lab rotations, and has joinedLee Wetzler’s lab.  His research project is as follows:

o   Munir has started investigating the immunobiology of TLR ligands as vaccine adjuvants, especially the Neisserial porin (PorB). He will be comparing and characterizing the effects of various adjuvants to PorB on humoral and cellular immune responses using ovalbumin as an antigen. He will also utilize a Listeria mouse model of infection to characterize the effect of PorB and other adjuvants on inducing cell mediated immune protection to this pathogen.”

  • Congratulations to Bill Cruikshank who was just appointed Assistant Dean in the BUSM Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.  The following paragraph is from the mail communication about this new appointment.

o   William Cruikshank, PhD, a professor of Medicine with extensive experience in teaching and funded research, is actively involved in the GMS Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP), which provides research experience for underrepresented minorities. Dr. Cruikshank is committed to organizing and implementing outreach programs to attract minorities to biomedical research. He will serve as the Office of Diversity’s liaison to the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences.


  • Lee Quinton’s lab published the following paper.  It includes 4 ITP members: Professors Lee Quinton, Jay Mizgerd, and new ITP faculty member Matt Jones, and ITP pre-doc student Kristie Hilliard. The paper is: Quinton, L.J., Mizgerd, J.P., Hilliard, K.L., Jones, M.R., Kwon, C.Y., and Allen, E. (2012) Leukemia inhibitory factor signaling is required for lung protection during pneumonia. Journal of Immunology 188(12) 6300-8

o   The pubmed link is here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22581855

  • Gerald Denis’ lab has an article in the July 2012 issue ofNature Reviews Cancer. It is entitled, “BET domain co-regulators in obesity, inflammation and caner.”  The full text can be found here:http://www.nature.com/nrc/journal/v12/n7/full/nrc3256.html
  • Lee Wetzler had a review published on TLR2 and Infection and Immunity in Frontiers in Immunology. The pubmed link is here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22566960
  • Tom Kepler and colleagues published the following paper: Haynes BF, Kelsoe G, Harrison SC, Kepler TB. B-cell-lineage immunogen design in vaccine development with HIV-1 as a case study Nat. Biotechnol. 2012 May 7;30(5):423-33.

Awards and Grants :


  • Gerald Denis’ lab received an Ignition award from the BU Technology Development for a project entitled ‘Novel Brd2 inhibitors to treat inflammatory diseases and diabetes.’
  • Dave Sherr’s lab has been awarded a 2 year grant from the Mary Kay Foundation to study the effects of aryl hydrocarbon receptor in human breast cancer.
  • Dave Sherr’s lab was awarded a Coulter foundation grant for translational studies to develop AhR modulators as triple negative breast cancer therapeutics.

Conference invitations and presentations :

  • Gerald Denis has been invited to chair a two-track symposium at the September 2012 annual meeting of the Obesity Society on the topic of the role of inflammation in the obesity-associated cancers.
  • Barb Nikolajczyk presented her team’s work at the American Diabetes Association annual meeting June 2012.  The title of the work was “B Lymphocytes are Master Regulators of a Pro-inflammatory T Cell Balance in Obesity and Glucose Intolerance”. This work has also been selected as a plenary oral presentation for The Obesity Society Annual meeting in Sept. 2012 in San Antonio TX.
  • Barb Nikolajczyk presented “B lymphocytes are master regulators of a pro-inflammatory T cell balance in obesity and glucose intolerance ” as an invited speaker at the Univ. of Pennsylvania Immmunology seminar series in June, 2012.
  • Barb Nikolajczyk has been invited as a panel member at an Obesity Society Annual Meeting Pre-conference Workshop on Adipocyte Metabolism, to be held in Sept. 2012 in San Antonio TX.
  • Tom Kepler lectured at the I lectured at the 2012 Summer school on Computational Immunology at the University of Rochesteron “Agent-based models applied to affinity maturation and the germinal center reaction”.

o   The lecture can be viewed here:http://imcportal.org/education/video/thomas-kepler-agent-based-models-applied-to-affinity-maturation-and-the-germinal-center-reaction.

  • Tom Kepler spoke at the Symposium on Modeling Immune Response from Complex Data, at the University of Rochester.  The talk was on “Affinity Maturation via Computational Biology.

o   This talk can be viewed here:http://imcportal.org/education/video/thomas-kepler-affinity-maturation-via-computational-biology

April/May 2012

Professor David Center will receive the 2012 Trudeau Award from the American Thoracic Society, to be presented at the San Francisco ATS meeting in May. This award is a major honor, given to one individual a year to recognize “lifelong major contributions to prevention, diagnosis and treatment of lung disease through leadership in research, education, or clinical care.” A trulyexceptional accomplishment!

Dr. Susan Winandy was chosen to co-chair the “Hematopoietic Stem Cells and Lineage Fate Decisions” Block Symposium at the American Association of Immunologists Annual Meeting in Boston in May.  Her work was also chosen for an oral presentation.

Parul Agnihotri, a second year graduate student in the lab of Dr. Susan Winandy who is supported by the ITP training grant, presented a psoster entited “Role of Ikaros in Foxo1-driven gene expression in CD4 T cells” at the International Graduate Student Immunology Conference 2012 at Harvard University on April 27-28 2012.

Dr. Rahm Gummuluru’s lab has the following papers in press (ITP members are highlighted):

  • Sagar, M., Akiyama, H., Etemad, B., Ramirez, N., Freitas, I., and Gummuluru, S. 2012. Transmembrane domain membrane proximal external region but not surface unit directed broadly neutralizing HIV-1 antibodies can restrict dendritic cell mediated HIV-1 trans infection. J. Infect. Dis. 205(8): 1248-1257. PMID: 22396600

David Sherr was selected to give a symposium lecture at  AAI this month on “Environmental Chemicals as Probes of the Immune System”

An abstract from Barb Nikolajczyk’s lab was chosen for the opening plenary session at the Obesity Society meeting in San Antonio in September.  The abstract is titled, “B Lymphocytes are Master Regulators of a Pro-inflammatory T Cell Balance in Obesity and Glucose Intolerance

March 2012

  • The Nikolajczyk lab‘s work has been selected for an oral presentation at the American Diabetes Association annual meeting in Philadelphia in June.  Dr. Nikolajczyk will be presenting. The title of her talk is: “B Lymphocytes are Master Regulators of a Pro-inflammatory T Cell Balance in Obesity and Glucose Intolerance”
  • The Nikolajczyk lab‘s work has also been selected for an oral presentation at the American Association of Immunologists annual meeting in Boston in May.  Anna Belkina will be presenting.

Work for both of these was done in collaboration with the Denis Lab

  • Lisa Ganley-Leal received a score of 20 on an R21 to define a novel TLR4 complex on human B cells.  Anticipated start date 7/1/12.
  • Munir Mosaheb’s abstract from his research during his first rotation in Bill Cruikshank’s lab was accepted by AAI for a poster presentation, and he was awarded a GMS travel award.

January/February 2012

  • The following paper was published from Jay Mizgerd’s lab. ITP faculty authors are bolded: Blahna, MT, MR Jones, LJ Quinton, K Matsuura, JP Mizgerd. 2011. Terminal uridyltransferase enzyme Zcchc11 promotes cell proliferation independent of its uridyltransferase activity. J Biol Chem286:42381-42389.
  • Also from Jay Mizgerd’s lab, this publication has been accepted: ITP faculty and student authors are bolded: Quinton, LJ, MT Blahna, MR. Jones, E Allen, JD Ferrari, KL Hilliard, X Zhang, V Sabharwal, H Algül, S Akira, RM Schmid, SI Pelton, A Spira, JP Mizgerd. 2012. Hepatocyte-specific mutation of both NF-kB RelA and STAT3 abrogates the acute phase response in mice. J Clin Invest (in press).
  • Greg Viglianti’s Lab published:   Melissa B. Uccellini,, Patricia Busto, Michelle Debatis, Ann Marshak-Rothstein,Gregory A. Viglianti 2012. Selective binding of anti-DNA antibodies to native dsDNA fragments of differing sequence.Immunology Letters (2012), doi:10.1016/j.imlet.2012.01.003 ImmunologyLetters
  • Publications from Lee Quinton’s lab include:

o   Quinton, L.J.*, Blahna, M.T., Jones, M.R., Allen, E.,Hilliard, K.L., Ferrari, J.D., Zhang, X., Sabharwal, V., Algül, H., Akira, S., Schmid, R.M., Pelton, S.I., Spira, A., and Mizgerd, J.P.* (2012) Combined hepatocyte-specific targeting of NF-kB RelA and STAT3 abrogates the acute phase response in mice.Journal of Clinical Investigation (In press; * co-corresponding author)

o    Quinton, L.J. (2012) GM-CSF: A double dose of protection during pneumonia.  American Journal of Physiology: Lung Cellular and Molecular Biology (Epub ahead of print)

  • Dave Sherr published:    B Paige Lawrence & David H Sherr. You AhR what you eat? Nature Immunology. 13(2): February 2012.  Lawrence and Sherr Nature Imm
  • John Connor had 1 paper and 1 review published.  The paper can be found here, and the review, here.


o   Lee Quinton Received a 7th percentile score (payline = 20th percentile) on an NIH R01 entitled “The biology of LIF during pneumonia”.  Anticipated start date = 7/1/12


  • Lee Wetzler received an award from the BU CTSI Microarray Initiative to perform 30 microarrays. This is to evaluate the genetic responses in immune cells to TLR ligands. 

A new post-doc, Min Zhu, joined Barb Nikolajczyk’s lab in late January.  She is a graduate of the Oral Biology Program at BU Goldman Dental School and will be looking at the role the immune system plays in obesity-associated periodontal disease.

Dan Rozelle, a new post-doc on the training grant, had artwork chosen for the BUMC artwork display.

Sudha Natarajan’s AAI abstract was selected for an oral and poster presentation at this year’s meeting in Boston.

November/December 2011

  • Members of our faculty and some of our students attended the NERCE-BEID (New England Regional Center of Excellence – Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Disease) conference November 13th-14th. The Elke Muhlberger lab, Paul Duprex’s lab, and Dr. Igor Kramnik’s lab all went with Dr. Ronald Corley. The conference was in Newport, Rhode Island and the attendees found some time to enjoy the famous cliff walk.IMG_0512
  • 3 members of the John Connor lab, recently presented at the Chemical and Biological Defense Science and Technology conference in Las Vegas.  John Connor and his lab manager Judy, each presented a poster. One of Dr. Connor’s graduate students, Sara Garamszegi was chosen to give an oral presentation, and received a student scholarship award.
  • A team of researchers, including Dr. John Connor from ITP,  from Boston University’s School of Medicine (BUSM) and College of Engineering (COE) were awarded a five-year, $4.8 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to develop a low-cost, multiplexed virus detection platform.  See the following link for the announcement: http://www.bu.edu/news/2011/10/04/virus-detection/
  • ITP faculty Drs. Gerald Denis and Barb Nikolajczyk hosted an afternoon symposium entitled “Obesity, Cancer and Inflammation” Oct. 26, 2011. The Evans Medical Foundation-supported program included clinical and basic science researchers, as well as epidemiologists and public health experts from BUSM, BMC and the Geisinger Institute in PA who discussed causes and treatments for obesity and its associated diseases.
  • Congratulations to Madhu Bogdan for brilliantly defending her thesis on October 28th. She worked on the role of the immune system in type 2 diabetes using human subjects material.  He work represents the first detailed immunophenotyping of type 2 diabetes with mechanistic insights explaining the maintenance of inflammation by immune system cells in metabolic disease.
  • Barb Nikolajczyk presented her group’s research to the MGH Center for Engineering in Medicine in a Nov. talk entitled ” Immunometabolism: The new frontier in defining roles for immune system cells in obesity and type 2 diabetes ”
  • Barb Nikolajczyk and Madhu Bogdan traveled to Wayne State University to meet with students who are interested in pursuing a PhD in biomedical sciences.  They made several strong connections, and already have several emails in response to their recruiting efforts.
  • Bob Lafyatis received two multi-PI grants to support scleroderma research.  One is a P50 “Center of Research Translation” and the other a P30 “Core Center” grant.  The total funding for the two grants is $11.3 million.