Immunology & Infectious Diseases

Identifying and manipulating the molecular networks that our bodies use to respond to physical or microbial insult is the thread that connects these research interests. Sepsis, trauma, asthma and enteric food poisoning account for thousands of deaths globally every year, with millions more incapacitated by complications. Between one-third and one-half of sepsis patients die because their body’s response to infection resulted in shock and multiple organ failure. The innate immune responses (Remick lab) and T cell-mediated responses (Valentine lab) are prominent features that contribute to this pathology. Recent research from the (Remick lab) identified fascinating links between neurologic responses to modest brain trauma and ability to survive bacterial pneumonia. Survival from bacterial food poisoning is an increasing global challenge. The leading cause of acute kidney failure in young children in the US is caused by toxins from pathogenic E.coli in contaminated food or water supplies that infects the intestines. The Kurosawa lab studies what happens when the toxins attack the cells that line blood vessels, particularly in the kidney, to cause organ failure. Toxin-induced changes in cell stress pathways and coagulation receptors contribute to hemolytic uremic syndrome. Recent research from the Kurosawa lab identified novel peptides that reverse these changes. Asthma is the scourge of developing nations, and the Kurosawa lab studies how alcohol and innate immune cells are linked to asthma severity.

The Sharon laboratory is interested in the development of vaccines and immunotherapeutics against bacterial pathogens. Current research focuses on the discovery and validation of antigens and epitopes that induce protective antibodies to Francisella tularensis, a Gram negative facultative intracellular bacterium that causes tularemia. F. tularensis has been classified as a Category A Select Agent, a likely bioweapon, due to its low infectivity dose and the high morbidity and mortality of respiratory tularemia, the most severe form of the disease.

The Winandy’s Lab focuses on defining the role of a transcriptional regulatory protein Ikaros in normal and abnormal T cell development.

Pathology is the study of all diseases and understanding the pathophysiology is the key to all therapeutics.