Our immunology research intersects with explorations of various disease-causing pathogens, incorporating molecular processes, cancer immunology and infectious disease. We study host immune responses to parasitic and microbial infection. We also explore immunity and immune regulation at mucosal sites, mucosal vaccine adjuvants and vaccine development.
Our research focuses on the mechanisms by which bacterial products and bacterial pathogens modulate immune responses in the host.
We are working to develop immune adjuvants for vaccine development against HIV, pneumococci and other pathogens. We also aim to identify bacterial genes and gene products that elicit or exacerbate symptoms of Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
We also are evaluating the potential of bacterial enterotoxins to combat breast cancer.
Other projects aim to understand mechanisms of immune regulation in mucosal tissues. We study regulatory T cells (Tregs) during infections with parasites to understand how they adapt to, and function within, inflammatory environments. The goal is to better understand Treg adaptation so we can target these cells for therapeutic purposes.
We aim to determine the cell types and factors in human tumor microenvironments that inhibit the ability of patients’ T cells to recognize and kill tumor cells. Upon recognizing the immune suppressive factors, we then design methods to block or reverse the T cell inhibitory activity, thereby enhancing T cell killing and tumor eradication.
We explore how immune responses to parasitic infections in the central nervous system affect the function and survival of neurons.
We also study biological functions of IgA antibodies and the generation of mucosal immune responses, especially against bacterial infections of the mouth and genital tract.