Basic Science Research

The ID research faculty are comprised of an outstanding group of internationally recognized faculty, with successful laboratory-based programs in infectious disease research.  These investigators utilize multi disciplinary approaches to study common mechanisms of infectious diseases pathogenesis.  Recent and continued recruitment efforts will enhance this current group of established investigators. Although the research interests of the faculty are broad, there are specific areas of concentration in which we provide unique strengths and opportunities. To explore the specific research interest of any faculty member listed, just click on their names to link to their respective home pages.

Areas of concentration include: Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunity, Innate Immunity and Inflammation, Immune Protection and Vaccine Development, HIV Pathogenesis, Emerging Infectious Diseases and Tuberculosis Pathogenesis.

The ID faculty are heavily involved in various training programs that include relevant graduate-level courses at the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and the Boston University Charles River Campus (BU CRC).  Training encompasses rigorous laboratory training and regularly scheduled seminars and journal clubs. The ultimate goal is to prepare our trainees for independent careers in infectious diseases research.

For additional information on Research Training Grants, click here.

Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunity

Many of our faculty are interested in the mechanisms of pathogenesis of a variety of organisms including Neisseria meningitidis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia pneumoniae, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Francisella tularensisand the parasite Schistosoma, and have multiple programs regarding those pathogens. TB research is listed separately below. There is special emphasis on the interaction of those pathogens with the immune system, such as how those pathogens may induce protective immunity or evade the immune system.

Faculty: Lisa Ganley-Leal PhD, Caroline Genco PhD, Frank Gibson PhD, Robin Ingalls MD, Paola Massari PhD, and Lee Wetzler MD

 Affiliated Faculty: Igor Kramnik MD, PhD (Pulmonary) and Jay Mizgerd ScD (Pulmonary)

Innate Immunity and Inflammation

The Section of Infectious Diseases has an extremely strong interest in innate immunity and the interaction of microbial pathogens and their byproducts with innate immune pattern recognition receptors. For example, we study how receptors, such as TOLL-like receptors, may affect induction of inflammation, and inflammatory sequelae (i.e. atherosclerosis). We also focus on how the innate immune system is involved in protection from those pathogens and how they may affect the immune response to those pathogens.

Faculty: Lisa Ganley-Leal PhD, Caroline Genco PhD, Frank Gibson PhD, Robin Ingalls MD, Paola Massari PhD, and Lee Wetzler MD

Affiliated Faculty: Jay Mizgerd ScD (Pulmonary) and Dan Remick MD (Pathology)

Immune Protection and Vaccine Development 

In our work regarding immune protection against various pathogens, a number of our ID faculty and faculty associated with the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory (NEIDL) are interested in the development of vaccines to protect against those pathogens. Moreover, much work is being performed to try to optimize vaccine efficacy via the use of immune adjuvants and various methods of immunizations, based on our knowledge of innate immune responses.

Faculty: Lisa Ganley-Leal PhD, Caroline Genco PhD, Frank Gibson PhD, Robin Ingalls MD, Paola Massari PhD, and Lee Wetzler MD

Affiliated Faculty: Igor Kramnik MD, PhD (Pulmonary)

HIV Pathogenesis

HIV-related basic research within the Section of Infectious Diseases examines mechanisms that influence HIV infection, spread and progression to AIDS. Projects include identifying viral cellular mechanisms that regulate key steps of the HIV life-cycle that may provide future therapeutic targets as well as characterizing events that establish and maintain HIV latency. In addition, understanding how HIV impacts the host immune response, in particular innate immunity, to initiate AIDS-associated diseases of different tissues including the muscle, lung and central nervous system represents a major research area.

Faculty: Andrew Henderson PhD and Monty Montano PhD

Affiliated Faculty: Rahm Gumuluru PhD (Microbiology) and Greg Viglianti PhD (Microbiology)

Emerging Infectious Diseases 

Boston University NEIDLWe have a number of faculty (in the Section and in other Departments or Schools) that work on emerging infectious disease agents, including bacteria (e.g., tularemia, anthrax) and viruses (e.g., Marburg, Ebola, Nipah). Our affiliation with the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory (NEIDL) provides our fellows with access to research programs that are unique to BUSM and BMC. The NEIDL is part of a national network of secure facilities that study emerging infectious diseases. The facility is dedicated to the development of diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics to combat emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. In addition to BSL-2 and BSL-3 laboratories, the NEIDL houses BSL-4 laboratories that operate at the highest level of containment. The NEIDL adds to the growing life sciences industry in the region, throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and across the country.

Faculty: Jack Murphy PhD, Lee Wetzler MD

Affiliated Faculty: James Collins PhD (Biomedical Engineering), Paul Duprex PhD  (Microbiology), Horacio Frydman PhD (Biology),  James Galagan PhD (Biomedical Engineering) and Igor Kramnik MD, PhD (Pulomonary).

Tuberculosis Pathogenesis

The focus of Tuberculosis (TB) research, broadly speaking, is the role of immunogenetics in disease pathogenesis. The approaches taken include deep-DNA sequencing of M. tuberculosis from different geographic areas and study of the evolution of drug resistance, determining the pathogenetic pathways in resistant and susceptible mouse species, and evaluating the mechanisms of and biomarkers for resistance and susceptibility to M. tuberculosis infection and disease in exposed humans. The translational and clinical research occurs at international sites in TB endemic countries and particularly Uganda and Brazil. A further translational focus is the evaluation of new TB diagnostics, which entails clinical studies in Uganda and Brazil but also in South Africa and South Korea.

Faculty: Jerrold Ellner MD and Edward Jones-Lopez MD MS

Affiliated Faculty: James Galagan PhD (Biomedical Engineering) and Igor Kramnik MD, PhD (Pulmonary)

Research mentors for ID trainees can be in other divisions, departments or schools including the Departments of Medicine, Microbiology, Pathology, Physiology and Biophysics at the Boston University School of Medicine, the Department of Environmental Health at the Boston University School of Public Health, and the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Boston University College of Engineering. Many of those faculty are affiliated with various Post-doctoral training programs.

Research Training Grants

There are many training grants within the Boston University community that would be available for postdoctoral research training. The CREST program, and interdepartmental training programs in Immunology and in Hematology provide support and mentorship in relevant laboratory investigation.

The Boston University Training Program in Inflammatory Disorders (BU- TPID) is a newly accepted training program established to integrate research on inflammatory disorders, and train students and fellows in common mechanisms of inflammation. The program encompasses three broad research areas including 1) Pathogen induced inflammation; 2) Chronic non-communicalbe inflammatory disorders; and 3) Therapeutics and preventative strategies.

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