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Research Faculty

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Douglas Golenbock, MD
Division Chief

Research Focus: Innate immunity in the context of bacterial and parasitic infections, as well as neurodegenerative diseases

  • Malaria: What is the cause of fever in malaria? And how can children have parasites in their blood without symptoms?
  • NLRP3 inflammasome in Alzheimer’s Disease
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Daniel Caffrey, PhD


Research Focus: Using genomic and computational methods to investigate immune response and host-pathogen interactions

  • Evolution of Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Genomics of the Innate Immune Response
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Robert Finberg, MD

Research Focus: Host responses to viruses and viral pathogenesis

The Finberg laboratory is currently involved in the following projects:

  • Role of virus receptors and coding and non-coding host genes in pathogenesis of influenza and SARS-CoV-2
  • Characterization of the structure and function of picornavirus genes (Coxsackie viruses, Encephalomyocarditis Virus)
  • New approaches to treating respiratory virus infections
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Katherine Fitzgerald, PhD

Research Focus: Understanding molecular mechanisms controlling inflammatory response

  • Sensing and signaling in innate immunity (TLRs, Inflammasomes, cGAS/STING)
  • Autoinflammatory diseases (e.g., SAVI - STING associated Vasculopathy with onset in Infancy)
  • Therapeutic targeting of Inflammasomes and cGAS/STING Signaling

Fitzgerald Lab

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Laura Gibson, MD

Research Focus: The immunopathogenesis of cytomegalovirus (CMV) and other herpesvirus infection in populations at risk for severe disease

  • Human T cell responses to cytomegalovirus (CMV) in children and transplant recipients
  • General and transplant-related infections
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Sunita Gulati, Dsc

Research Focus: The immunology of gonococcal infections 

  • Develop and evaluate vaccine candidates for Neisseria gonorrhoeae 
  • Development of immunotherapeutic agents against Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • Development of diagnostic test for Neisseria gonorrhoeae. 
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Evelyn Kurt-Jones, PhD

Research Focus: Innate immune mechanisms of disease

  • Investigation of pathogen-receptor interactions that drive innate immunity
  • Studies of the innate immune response in animal models of infection to determine how specific innate immune mechanisms drive or prevent disease progression and organ pathology during infection with microbial pathogens, including viruses and bacteria
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Stuart Levitz, MD

Research Focus: The immunology of fungal infections

  • Vaccine development in Cryptococcus neoformans
  • Eosinophil cytokine production in allergic aspergillosis
  • Identification of immunoreactive fungal proteins

Levitz Lab

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Lisa Lewis, PhD

Research Focus: Immunology of Infections with pathogenic Neisseria

  • Develop vaccines to combat infection with N. gonorrhoeae
  • Define the immunological basis of a candidate vaccine efficacy
  • Assess the impact of complement inhibition on host defenses against N. meningitidis
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Egil Lien, PhD

Research Focus: Understanding host-pathogen interactions – intersection of inflammation and cell death pathways

  • Mechanisms for pathogen activation and inhibition of Innate Immunity – inflammasomes, TLRs, regulated cell death.
  • Manipulation of signaling by bacterial secretion system effectors from Yersinia and Salmonella, and subsequent host backup responses
  • Non-infectious innate immune signaling, induced by vaccines, metabolism and neuroinflammatory diseases
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Ann Moormann, PhD, MPH

Research Focus: The immunopathology of malaria, EBV, and Burkitt lymphoma

  • T cell and natural killer cell studies of human immunity to infectious diseases
  • Heterogeneity of adaptive immunity to parasites, viruses and vaccine-elicited responses
  • Identification of therapeutic interventions for endemic Burkitt lymphoma
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Kendi Okuda, PhD

Research Focus: The intracellular life of Leishmania

  • Host factors involved in parasitophorous vacuole biogenesis
  • Host cell responses to infection
  • Drosophila infection model of Leishmania
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Megan Orzalli, PhD

Research Focus: Virus-host interactions and host immune response

  • Antiviral immunity and inflammation at barrier surfaces
  • 3D skin organoids

Orzalli Lab

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Read Pukkila-Worley, MD

Research Focus: Host-pathogen interactions in intestinal epithelial cells

  • Characterizing how bacteria sensed by the innate immune system in the intestine
  • Understanding how neurons control intestinal inflammation
  • Characterizing new mechanisms of immune pathway activation and regulation
  • Defining how host metabolism affect the ability to survive infection

Pukkila-Worley Lab

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Lee Quinton, PhD

Research Focus: Lung immunity and the biological signals that dictate pneumonia outcome and susceptibility

  • Intrapulmonary control of immune resistance and tissue resilience
  • Influence of the lung-liver axis on pneumonia susceptibility
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Sanjay Ram, MD

Research Focus: Complement-bacteria interactions

  • How Neisseria gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis escape killing by complement
  • Immunotherapeutics and vaccines against multidrug-resistant gonococci
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Zaida Ramirez-Ortiz, PhD

Research Focus: Understanding the role and the molecular mechanisms of mammalian Scavenger Receptors in the capture and clearance of apoptotic debris

  • Understanding the role of scavenger receptors in the response to infectious agents and self-antigens
  • Understanding the interplay between dendritic cells and the removal of apoptotic cells during autoimmune diseases

Ramirez-Ortiz Lab 

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Peter Rice, MD

Research Focus: Translational and clinical studies involving vaccines and therapeutics for Neisseria gonorrhoeae

  • Translational research involving vaccines/therapeutics against Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • Clinical trial (Phase 1) of a gonococcal vaccine candidate 
  • Gonococcal immune mechanisms involved in pathogenesis and protection in animal models
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Jutamas Shaughnessy, MD, PhD

Research Focus: The immunology of Neisseria gonorrhoeae

  • The role of complement regulatory proteins in the pathogenesis of N. gonorrhoeae.
  • Advance development of a peptide vaccine candidate that mimics an oligosaccharide epitope located as part of gonococcal lipooligosaccharide (LOS)
  • Develop novel therapies against N. gonorrhoeae which has become resistant to almost every conventional antibiotic.
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Neal Silverman, PhD

Research Focus: Innate immune recognition and signal transduction in flies and mammals

  • How bacteria, viruses and parasites are recognized by innate immune receptors
  • Molecular and biochemical mechanisms used by both the host and microbe to respond to infection

Silverman Lab

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Charles Specht, PhD

Research Focus: Cell wall biosynthesis in pathogenic fungi

  • Vaccine development for pathogenic Cryptococcus species.
  • Transmission of cryptococcal infection in mice.
  • Chitosan biosynthesis in Cryptococcus neoformans and C. gattii.
  • Screening for secreted, immunodominant proteins of C. neoformans.
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Jennifer Wang, MD

Research focus: Innate immune factors that drive type 1 diabetes

  • Rat model of autoimmune diabetes
  • Infection of human islets with coxsackievirus B

Wang Lab