Our research centers on how the innate branch of the immune system regulates adaptive immunity.
We study this in the context of several disease models including allergy, alloimmunization to transfused red blood cells and the protective immune response generated by vaccines.
We are currently focused on the function of a rare but crucial group of immune cells called dendritic cells (DCs). DCs survey tissues for infection/damage and translate this information into signals that
regulate the activation of T cells to drive inflammation.
In a process that is poorly understood, the emigration of activated DCs from an inflamed tissue is a crucial checkpoint in the generation of a productive T cell-driven adaptive immune response.
We recently identified an unexpected role for a molecule that regulates the actin cytoskeleton, Dock8, in dictating whether certain types of DCs can migrate to lymph nodes or within the spleen. By altering the movement of certain DCs during the course of an immune response we can tailor the type of adaptive immune response generated.