Joseph P. Mizgerd, ScD
Professor of Medicine and Microbiology
BA, Amherst College
ScD, Harvard School of Public Health
Postdoctoral Training, Harvard School of Public Health
Our work focuses on immunology in the lung and its influence on acute lower respiratory tract infections. Our research is illuminating the regulation and function of innate and adaptive immune cells and signals in the lung, and how variations in these parameters determine pneumonia susceptibility and outcome. Lung defense consists of immune resistance (the ability to eliminate microbes) and tissue resilience (the ability to prevent or withstand injurious stimuli from infection and inflammation). Both activities are accomplished by the coordinated activities of diverse cell types within the lung, involving some that are constitutively present (including diverse types of epithelial cells, macrophages, lymphocytes, and more) as well as others newly recruited to the infected tissue (including neutrophils plus additional myeloid or lymphoid cells). Effective and productive communication amongst these cells can efficiently destroy microbes without damaging the lung, maintaining respiratory health. Dysregulation of these pathways instead promotes infection (e.g., pneumonia), injury (e.g., the acute respiratory distress syndrome), and other pulmonary diseases. Elucidating factors that differentiate lung infection resistance and susceptibility will enable new approaches to preventing and treating pneumonia.