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Immunology of Barrier Surfaces

Barrier surfaces are the first to come into contact with pathogens and have overlapping and unique immunological mechanisms to prevent infection. The lungs, gut, and skin form major physical and immunological barriers to infection. These organs are the main portal of entry for a variety of air and food-borne pathogens, allergens, and other environmental pollutants.  They have the unique ability to maintain homeostasis in the face of constant external provocation.  Once this property is jeopardized, different types of diseases ensue.  Although the underlying mechanisms of some of these diseases are not known, it is now becoming clear that immune imbalances contribute to many of these disorders. Many hematopoietic cell types orchestrate immunologic responses to pathogens in these organs. Using animal models of disease (asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, IBD, systemic sclerosis), inducible transgenic techniques, and genomic and proteomic approaches, we are involved in studying both basic mechanisms of dendritic cell maturation, ILCs activation, T cell differentiation, and the relevance of these interactions in disease and intolerance.

Participating Faculty and Labs

John Alcorn, Ph.D.
T cell immunity, host defense, epithelial cell biology, and lung physiology; Immunologic mechanisms of severe and steroid insensitive asthma

Olivera J. Finn, Ph.D.
Targeting abnormal expression of MUC1 tumor antigen in Colitis-associated colon cancer and IBD

JoAnne L. Flynn, Ph.D
Immunology and pathogenesis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Patrizia Fuschiotti, Ph.D.
Role of T cell differentiation and cytokines in the context of human autoimmune diseases such as systemic sclerosis

Sarah Gaffen, Ph.D.
Defining signal transduction mechanisms and biological function of IL-2 and IL-17 family cytokines, using in vitro and in vivo models

Tim Hand, Ph.D.
Host-microbiome interaction during neonatal bacterial colonization, characterization of memory T cell populations from the GI tract, regulation of microbiota-specific effector/memory T cells, role of diet in intestinal immunity and health, role of microbiota-specific T cells in the development of colon cancer

Dan Kaplan, MD, Ph.D.
Development of innate and adaptive responses to epicutaneous C. alibcans infection, relationship of pain sensing neurons in the skin with host defense, ability of keratinocytes to retain dendritic cells and T cells in the epidermis, development of humoral responses to cutaneous pathogens, plasticity of individual skin-resident dendritic cell subsets, tolerance and suppression of immune responses by Langerhans cells

Alison Morris, MS, MD
HIV-related pulmonary diseases, COPD, Asthma, pulmonary hypertension

Anuradha Ray, Ph.D.
Mechanisms of asthma and tolerance--T cell, DC differentiation, signaling mechanisms (animal models of asthma, inducible transgenic techniques, genomics and proteomics)

Prabir Ray, Ph.D. 
Transgenic models of immune diseases of the lung (asthma, pulmonary fibrosis), mechanisms of DC maturation and interactions with T cells