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Center for Infection & Immunity

It has become clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, and from other disease outbreaks throughout history, that humankind needs greater understanding of the underlying pathogenesis of infectious diseases if we are to have better prevention and treatment.

Director’s Welcome

Akiko Iwasaki, PhD
Sterling Professor of Immunobiology and Professor of Dermatology and of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases); Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Welcome to our new Center for Infection & Immunity at the Yale University School of Medicine! In this Center, we propose to approach infectious diseases from the first principles. We will investigate infectious diseases from the strategies used by the pathogen and to infect, propagate, and survive, and the host to block and eliminate the pathogen. We propose that infectious diseases can be considered as patterns defined by the combinations of the respective strategies used by the pathogen and the host. With this basic premise, the Center will study immune responses following infection by a variety of pathogens, with the goal of understanding how immune responses protect the host or harm the host depending on both the host-intrinsic (age, sex, genetics) and extrinsic (environment, diet, medication, income, education) parameters. We will also investigate disease tolerance mechanisms for dealing with infectious pathogens to promote a better quality of life in patients suffering from chronic diseases.

The Center will focus on understanding the pathobiology of long COVID with the hopes of also understanding other post-acute infection syndromes such as myalgic encephalomyelitis chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Research over the past decades has revealed a link between infection and autoimmunity, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and age-related diseases. Our Center will strive to define potential links between infection and these other chronic diseases with the goal of developing targeted and effective therapies.

Basic mechanisms of protective immunity will be leveraged to develop better and more effective vaccine strategies. One such strategy will involve redirecting systemic immunity towards the mucosal surfaces, where the pathogen normally encounters the host. Such mucosal vaccines hold promise not only to prevent disease but also to block infection and transmission.

Finally, the Center will accomplish these missions by elevating and supporting historically underrepresented scientists and junior scientists. We will create a culture of open science and collaboration. The Center will involve patients as equal partners in our quest to understand infectious diseases. We believe that diversity, inclusion, and equity are the ingredients for success in conducting excellent and innovative science and are at the core of our Center’s value.


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