Research

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 diabtes. 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.

Research Faculty

Askenase, Philip William

Professor of Medicine (Immunology)

Research Interests:Mast cells; Basophils; Delayed sensitivity; Contact sensitivity; Exosomes; MiRNA; NKT cells; Allergy

Eisenbarth, Stephanie C

Assistant Professor of Laboratory Medicine, of Immunobiology and of Medicine (Immunology)
Assistant Director, Clinical Immunology & Flow Cytometry Laboratories
Director, Immune Monitoring Core

Research Interests:Pattern Recognition Receptors; NOD-like Receptors (NLRs); Dendritic Cells; T cells; Allergy/Asthma; Vaccines/Adjuvants; Red Blood Cell Alloimmunization; Autoimmune Diabetes; Influenza

Kantor, Fred Stuart

Paul B. Beeson Professor of Medicine (Immunology)

Research Interests:Host parasite relationship in Lyme Borreliosis; immune relationship between Borrelia burgdorferi and the host in chronic infection

Meffre, Eric RF

Associate Professor of Immunobiology and of Medicine (Immunology)

Research Interests:Human B-cell tolerance; Primary immunodeficiencies; Autoimmune diseases

Price, Christina

Instructor in Medicine (Immunology) and in Pediatrics (Immunology)

Research Interests:Immune Deficiency in Autoimmunity

Romberg, Neil David

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (Immunology)

Research Interests:Molecular mechanisms of primary immune deficiency diseases, Autoimmune manifestations of Common Variable Immune Deficiency, Smith-Magenis Syndrome related immune deficiency, Newborn screening for immune deficiency

Zheng, Tao

Associate Professor of Medicine (Immunology) and of Pediatrics (Immunology)
Chief, Section of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

Research Interests:Characterization of molecular and cellular mechanisms in the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis; Development of asthma; Atopic March; Using transgenic animal models; Th2 cytokine IL-13 as a potent inducer of phenotypical features of atopic dermatitis in mice, eosinophil, mast cell, and T cell infiltration, fibrotic and vascular remodeling, and clinical manifestations; IL-13 induced atopic dermatitis; Enhanced susceptibility of these mice to allergen induced allergic asthma in the lung; Identifying novel molecules and pathways in the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis and the atopic march; Developing new therapeutics for allergic diseases

Zhu, Zhou

Associate Professor of Pediatrics (Immunology) and of Medicine (Immunology)

Research Interests:Our studies are on glycoligand receptors, siglecs, that are expressed on the immune cells such as eosinophils (Siglec-8) and neutrophils (Siglec-9) in specific pulmonary diseases. The unique expression patterns of these siglecs, the specific binding to glycoligands, and the consequent cellular responses, including apoptosis, are being explored as potential targets and pathways for the development of effective therapeutic approaches for pulmonary diseases.