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Katherine Fitzgerald, PhD
Program Director

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


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

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

Douglas Golenbock, MD

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

John Harris, MD, PhD

Research Focus: Understanding the role of the innate immune system during the initiation and progression of autoimmunity in vitiligo

  • Autoimmunity is likely initiated when DAMPs are released by cellular stress and activate innate inflammation
  • Melanocyte destruction during autoimmunity results from cell death pathways that overlap with innate immune signaling
  • Macrophages, a prototypic innate immune cell type, are activated during the progression of vitiligo, yet their function during autoimmunity is unknown
  • The inflammasome is implicated in genetic studies of vitiligo, and early data reveal important contributions during vitiligo progression

Harris Lab


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

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


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

Megan Orzalli, PhD

Research Focus: Virus-host interactions and host immune response

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

Orzalli Lab


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


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

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

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 


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

Ann Marshak-Rothstein, PhD

Research Focus: Mechanisms of autoinflammation in disease pathogenesis

  • Autoinflammation resulting from STING GOF mutations
  • DNAseII-deficiency and TLR-driven autoinflammation
  • Immunomodulatory mechanisms of soluble Fas ligand

Rothstein Lab 


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


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