Research Training

Research in Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Yale seeks to answer fundamental questions about the function of the immune system in health and disease. Individual projects are led by our independent investigators.

Key "breakthroughs" of our section, in the past decade:

  1. Development of monoclonal antibodies to protective determinants of the outer surface protein of the Lyme bacillus (Borrelia burgdorferi).
  2. Development of a protective vaccine (in mice) against the Lyme bacillus. Confirmatory human studies (in Block Island) are in process.
  3. Mechanism's of immune cutaneous resistance to ticks. Demonstration that antibodies and T cells, recruit basophils and eosinophils, to mediate immune cutaneous resistance to ticks.
  4. Demonstration that mast cells and platelets, by releasing serotonin (5-HT), play a key role in T cell-mediated immunity in several systems: allergic contact dermatitis, delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH), GI responses to helminthic worms (trichinella) etc.
  5. Discovery of positive regulatory serotonin receptors (5-HT2R) on T cells.
  6. Discovery of a mouse model for asthma, with in vivo measurement of airway hyperreactivity to a methacholine dose-response challenge.

Suggestions for Flagship Interdisciplinary Ideas:

  1. Immunobiology of asthma
    Collaborating investigators; P. W. Askenase, J. Elias, G. Geba, C. Rochester, R. Flavell, K. Bottomly, and J. Pober
  2. Clinical and Experimental Immunology
    A large interdisciplinary program that could be constructed from the already available immunologists, that are working in diverse disciplines within the department of medicine, and in neighboring departments and sections.

Summary

It can be seen that the research thread that runs through the entire training faculty is the regulation of the immune response. The areas in which immunoregulation are studied range from Lyme disease to allergy and from mast cells to T cell receptors in the regulation of autoimmune diseases and in immune responses. Also, there is molecular immunology research directed at important in vivo biologic questions such as the role of specific MHC molecules in specialized cell subsets, and identification of the autoantigen in diabetes. Current interest concerns the role of B cells in the in vivo recruitment of effector T cells; the process of early immune resistance in bacterial pneumonia; the role of somatic hypermutations in early immune antibodies that are active in allergic dermatitis; the molecular characteristics of factors suppressive of T cell immunity in vivo; and the role of iNKT cells and NK cells in allergic responses. As these areas are diverse and yet unified, so will the experience of the trainees be diverse and yet unified by this broad exposure to current immunologic thinking and techniques.