MS – Thomas Jefferson University, 2007
BS – University of Minnesota-Duluth, 2005
There has been extraordinary success in developing effective vaccines against many infectious diseases over the last half century, however there are still both relatively new and long-term pathogens for which progress has been slow. Most vaccines are successful because of adjuvants added to their formulations or in the case of live attenuated vaccine because the adjuvant is inherent. However, adjuvants in vaccines have been used without a good understanding of their immunological mechanisms. I am investigating the role of different antigen presenting cell types in the activity of both TLR dependent and independent adjuvants in vivo. In particular, I am interested in understanding how the adjuvant activity of a TLR2 agonist, Neisseria meningitidis Porin B, compare to other adjuvants and if it is able to induce a cellular immune response. My long-term interest is to have a good understanding of the mechanisms by which vaccines and its adjuvants are recognized by the innate immune system and how it stimulate the adaptive arm of the immune system. These insights will allow for a more intelligent use of adjuvants to induce a specific type of immune response to provide protection against immune evading pathogens.