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Our Research


macrophage tb

Research faculty in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology are internationally recognized as leaders in the field of innate immunity. Research ranges from fundamental studies performed in invertebrate and vertebrate model systems to human-based studies of infectious, inflammatory, and autoimmune diseases. 

Our investigators are engaged in research to identify fundamental aspects of host defenses against infectious bacterial, viral, and fungal pathogens. These include diseases caused by Plasmodium (malaria), Listeria, Leishmania, Group B Streptococci, Neisseria, West Nile virus, dengue fever virus, coronaviruses (SARS-CoV-2), influenza viruses, herpes viruses, Candida, Cryptococcus neoformans, Aspergillus fumigatus, Yersinia (Plague), human papillomavirus and poxviruses. 

In addition to our work on pathogens, we have developed unique approaches to studying infectious syndromes, such as septic shock and sexually transmitted infections. 

We have also made major discoveries concerning non-infectious (sterile) inflammatory disorders, including autoinflammatory diseases such as SAVI, and autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, as well as atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Several groups within the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology are also part of the Program in Innate Immunity, an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental group of investigators studying innate immunity in both health and disease.

Learn more about our Research Faculty and their work.


Recent News

October 12, 2021-  
New study, "Human nasal wash RNA-seq reveals distinct cell-specific innate immune responses between influenza and SARS-CoV-2", published in JCI Insight.

UMass Chan MD/PhD student Kevin Gao, along with senior author Dr. Jennifer Wang, the late Dr. Robert Finberg, and colleagues, performed a small study comparing single-cell RNA-sequencing findings in freshly-collected nasal wash samples from UMass Memorial Medical Center patients diagnosed with either acute COVID or influenza to understand how upper airway immune and epithelial cell responses differ between these two respiratory viral infections. They found that age-associated B cells, which have previously been reported as enriched in blood from patients with severe COVID infection, were also enriched in COVID samples compared to influenza or healthy control samples. Additionally, they assessed for differentially expressed genes and receptor-ligand interactions across cell types; while influenza virus induces robust immune responses in both myeloid and epithelial cells, SARS-CoV-2 elicits strong immune responses in myeloid but not epithelial cells. Findings from this study of local upper respiratory tract responses to viral infection may help account for differences in course and resolution of infection in these diseases, and may lead to future research that elaborates upon mechanistic differences for disease progression. Read full text on JCI Insight.