Research Interests

Innate immunity; Autophagy; Inflammasomes; sexually transmitted infections; Herpes simplex virus; human papillomavirus;respiratory virus infections; Influenza infection; T cell immunity; Commensal bacteria

Research Summary

The mucosal surfaces represent major sites of entry for numerous infectious agents. Consequently, the vast mucosal surfaces are intricately lined with cells and lymphoid organs specialized in providing protective antibody and cellular immunity. One of the most fundamental issues in this field concerns how antigens in the mucosa are taken up, processed, and presented by antigen presenting cells. Our laboratory's goal is to understand how immunity is initiated and maintained at the mucosal surfaces, particularly by the dendritic cells (DCs), through natural portals of entry for pathogens that are of significant health concerns in the world. 

We focus on understanding how viruses are recognized (innate immunity) and how that information is used to generate protective adaptive immunity. We study immune responses to herpes simplex viruses in the genital tract and influenza infection in the lung. Our recent focus also includes the study of how autophagy mediates innate and adaptive immune responses to these and other viral pathogens.  Our ultimate goal is to utilize the knowledge we gain through these areas of research in the rational design of effective vaccines or microbicides for the prevention of transmission of viral and bacterial pathogens.

Projects

Our research addresses mechanisms of innate recognition of viruses and initiation of antiviral immunity, particularly at the natural site of virus encounter at the mucosal surfaces. For specific projects being carried out in this laboratory, please click on the links below.