Dr. Konnikova is a Neonatologist who focuses on the development of neonatal immunity at barrier sites such as the GI tract and the maternal-fetal interface and how this is regulated by the microbiome and the associated metabolome. Her group further studies the pathogenesis of diverse diseases such as sepsis, preterm labor, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), very early onset (VEO) and pediatric IBD.
Dr. Konnikova is an Attending Neonatologist, Mucosal Immunologist, and an Assistant Professor in Pediatrics and Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences. She is also a member of the Human and Translational Immunology Program and Program in Translational Biomedicine at the Yale School of Medicine. Her focus is on developing immunity at mucosal surfaces and its role in the pathogenesis of diverse diseases such as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), sepsis, and preterm labor.
Using a systems biology approach and cutting-edge techniques such as imaging and suspension mass cytometry and single cell RNA sequencing, her group is currently focused on improving our understanding of how mucosal immunity develops at barrier sites such as the GI tract and the maternal-fetal interface and what goes awry to cause disease. To this end, she has established a large biorepository (over 5,000 samples) of control and disease cryopreserved intestinal and placental tissue. Using tissue from her biobank, her group have been able to study the development of human fetal intestinal immunity (Stras et al., Developmental Cell, 2019). In their pursuit to understand the source of antigens priming in utero T cells, the have established numeroud collaborations to study fetal intestinal microbiome and metabolome and were the first to show that human fetal intestinal tissue contains abundant and diverse bacterial metabolites in the absence of a detectable microbiome (Li and Toothaker et al, JCI Insight, 2020). Her group is also studying the development of enterocytes (Ergozi et al., Nature Medicine, 2021) where they have recently identified insulin-secreting enteroendocrine cells in the small fetal intestine with broad implications for gut development, immune regulation, and diabetes treatment.
Additionally, using a large cohort of over 100 patients with IBD, she has been able to characterize immune signatures differentiating ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease (Mitsialis et al., Gastroenterology, 2020). Moreover, her group has identified unique immune populations in NEC (Olaloye et al., JEM, 2021). Finally, in the pursuit to better understand the contribution of fetal immunity to placental homeostasis, using a non-human primate model, her group has shown that fetal cells contribute to intra-amniotic inflammation (Toothaker et al., Frontiers, 2020). Similarly, her group has characterized the diverse immune-landscape of second trimester human placentas including fetal memory T cells (Development, 2022).
Infant Nutrition Disorders; Infant, Premature; Placenta; Inflammatory Bowel Diseases; Immunity, Mucosal; Enterocolitis, Necrotizing; Gastrointestinal Microbiome