In the Iwasaki Laboratory, we focus on understanding how viruses infect the host through the mucosal surfaces to cause diseases, how the immune system deals with viral infections within these local tissues, how acute infections lead to long-term diseases, and to use such insights to design vaccines and therapeutics against acute & chronic viral diseases, post-viral diseases, autoimmunity, and cancer. We study immune responses to a variety of viruses including herpes simplex viruses, Zika virus, influenza viruses, rhinoviruses, and retroviruses - with the most recent focus on SARS-CoV-2. Our studies have led to the development of mucosal vaccines that can prevent infection, transmission, and recurrent diseases.
Our research addresses mechanisms of innate immune recognition of viruses and initiation of adaptive antiviral immunity, particularly at the natural site of virus encounter at the mucosal surfaces. Basic insights gained from studying the natural immune protective mechanisms help propel better vaccine designs. On the other hand, when the immune system fails to successfully deal with the pathogens, downstream consequences include the development of infectious diseases, autoimmunity, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer. For specific projects being carried out in this laboratory, please click on the links below.