Elsa Bou Ghanem PhD

Elsa Bou Ghanem

Elsa Bou Ghanem
PhD

Contact Information
JSMBS
955 Main Street
Office 55254
Buffalo, NY 14203
Phone: 7168292422
Fax: 7168292158
elsaboug@buffalo.edu



Professional Summary:

Research in my laboratory focuses on age-associated changes in innate immune responses that render the elderly more susceptible to infections. As the number of individuals above 65 years old is projected to reach 2 billion by 2050, infections in this population poses a serious health and economic burden. A major area of our work is on infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) that despite the availability of vaccines, remain the leading cause of community-acquired pneumonia in the elderly. Immunosenescence, the age-related decline in immune-cell function, and inflammaging, the age-related increase in basal inflammation, may both contribute to the increased susceptibility of the elderly to life-threatening S. pneumoniae infections such as pneumonia, bacteremia and meningitis.

Of particular interest are polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) or neutrophil responses. PMNs are innate immune cells that are key determinants of disease following infection because their initial presence is required to control bacterial numbers, but their persistence in the lungs is detrimental to the host. PMN responses are dysregulated in aging; however, the pathways driving this are not well elucidated. We found that in young hosts, resistance to infection, PMN antibacterial function as well as pulmonary recruitment and resolution following pneumococcal pneumonia is controlled by the extracellular adenosine (EAD) pathway. EAD is produced by the sequential action of two exonucleosidases, CD39 and CD73, and can signal via four known adenosine receptors, that can be pro- or anti-inflammatory. Interestingly, we found that pneumococci can modulate host inflammatory responses by targeting the expression of EAD pathway components.

We are using a variety of approaches including in vitro modeling of PMN responses from human donors, mouse models of infection as well as genetic manipulation of bacteria to elucidate the following: 1) How the EAD pathway shapes PMN responses during infection; 2) The role of the EAD pathway in age-driven immune dysregulation; 3) The role of PMNs and the EAD pathway in mounting protective memory responses following vaccination in young and aged hosts; 4) The S. pneumoniae virulence factors required to manipulate the EAD pathway. Elucidating what drives the dysregulated immune responses during aging has the potential of using novel therapies to combat infections in the elderly.

Education and Training:

  • PhD, Microbiology and Immunology, University of Kentucky (2011)
  • MS, Microbiology and Immunology, American University of Beirut (2006)
  • BS, Medical Laboratory, American University of Beirut (2004)

Employment:

  • Assistant Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, University at Buffalo (2018-present)
  • Research Associate, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Tufts University, School of Medicine (2016–2018)
  • Post Doctoral Fellow, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Tufts University, School of Medicine (2011–2016)

Awards and Honors:

  • Society for Leukocyte Biology 50th Annual Meeting Travel Award (2017)
  • Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University’s Hamish N. Munro Award for Excellence in Post-doctoral Research (2015)
  • Eukaryotic Cell Outstanding Young Investigator Poster Presentation Award at FASEB Microbial Pathogenesis Meeting (2015)
  • Natalie V. Zucker Research Center For Women Scholars Award (2014)
  • Best Poster prize; Boston Bacterial Meeting (2013)
  • Best Poster Award, Nutritional Immunology RIS trainee poster competition at Experimental Biology meeting (2013)
  • Best Poster Award, University of Kentucky, Microbiology and Immunology Retreat (2008)
  • Student Travel Award, University of Kentucky (2007)
  • Scholarship for Masters Students, American University of Beirut (2004)

Research Expertise:

  • Bacteria: Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Bacterial Pathogenesis: Virulence requirements under inflammatory conditions
  • Immune Senescence: Age-driven dysregulation in neutrophil responses
  • Inflammation: Immune modulatory extracellular adenosine during bacterial pneumonia
  • Innate Immunology: Recruitment and anti-bacterial function of neutrophils
  • Vaccine Responses: Age-driven decline in vaccine responses

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • September 2018–June 2021
    The role of extracellular adenosine in age-driven susceptibility to S. pneumoniae lung infection
    NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $718,992
  • May 2016–January 2018
    The role of extracellular adenosine in age-driven susceptibility to S. pneumoniae lung infection
    National Institute on Aging
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $235,240
  • August 2013–August 2016
    The role of extracellular adenosine in resistance to Streptococcus pneumoniae lung infection
    Life Sciences Research Foundation; Sponsor: The Howard Hughes Medical Institute
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $180,000
  • January 2013–January 2015
    Vitamin E Reverses Age-Associated Susceptibility to Streptococcus pneumoniae Lung Infection
    ASPEN Rhodes Foundation Abbott Nutrition grant
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $50,000

Journal Articles:

See all (4 more)

Professional Memberships:

  • Society for Leukocyte Biology (2017–present)
  • American Society for Microbiology (2014–present)
  • Association of Women in Science (2014–2017)
  • American Society of Nutrition (2012–2015)
  • American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (2012–2015)

Presentations:

  • "The role of neutrophils and extracellular adenosine in shaping age-driven susceptibility to Streptococcus pneumoniae lung infection" Society for Leukocyte Biology 50th Annual Meeting (2017)
  • "How aging and extracellular adenosine shape PMN responses during S. pneumoniae lung infection" Department Seminar, University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Microbiology and Immunology (2016)
  • "How aging and extracellular adenosine shape PMN responses during S. pneumoniae lung infection" Department Seminar, Texas A&M Health Science Center, Department of Microbial pathogenesis and Immunology (2015)
  • "How aging and extracellular adenosine shape PMN responses during S. pneumoniae lung infection" Department Seminar, University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Department of Microbiology (2015)
  • "How aging and extracellular adenosine shape PMN responses during S. pneumoniae lung infection" Department Seminar, University of Iowa, Department of Microbiology (2015)
  • "The role of immune-modulatory extracellular adenosine in resistance to Streptococcus pneumoniae lung infection" Rheumatology grand rounds, Tufts University (2014)
  • "Vitamin E boosts resistance to Streptococcus pneumoniae infection in aged mice by inhibiting hepoxilin A3-mediated neutrophil recruitment across the lung epithelium" Experimental Biology Conference (2014)
  • "Extracellular adenosine, an immune modulator that promotes resistance to invasive Streptococcus pneumoniae infection" FASEB Snow Mas Microbial Pathogenesis Meeting (2013)
  • "Extracellular adenosine, an immune modulator that promotes resistance to invasive Streptococcus pneumoniae infection" Tufts University, Department of Microbiology Departmental 50th Anniversary Symposium (2013)
  • "Vitamin E reverses age-associated susceptibility to Streptococcus pneumoniae lung infection" Experimental Biology Conference (2013)
  • "Differential ability of CD8+ T cells to rapidly secrete IFNγ during Listeria monocytogenes infection" Midwinter Conference of Immunologists (2011)
  • "Rapid IFNγ secretion by human CD8+ T cells exposed to Listeria monocytogenes" Autumn Immunology Conference (2009)
  • "A T cell intrinsic factor contributes to the differential IFNγ response observed during Listeria monocytogenes infection" Autumn Immunology Conference (2008)
  • "Rapid IFNγ response by CD8+ T cells during Listeria infection" Autumn Immunology Conference (2007)
See all (4 more)

Service Activities:

  • Peer Review; Infection and Immunity; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2018–present)
  • Peer Review; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2017–present)
  • Peer Review; Microbes and Infection; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2017–present)
  • Association of Women in Science Mentoring Circles; Career Mentor; Other (2015–present)

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Clinical Specialties:

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Contact Information

JSMBS
955 Main Street
Office 55254
Buffalo, NY 14203
Phone: 7168292422
Fax: 7168292158
elsaboug@buffalo.edu