Elizabeth A. Wohlfert Ph.D.

Elizabeth Wohlfert

Elizabeth A. Wohlfert
Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences


Specialty/Research Focus

Immunology; Infectious Disease

Contact Information
Room 5256
955 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: 7168293969
wohlfert@buffalo.edu



Professional Summary:

The fundamental question that drives the research in my laboratory is how the immune response is regulated so that an invading pathogen is eliminated or controlled with minimal collateral damage to the host. A protective immune response is required in order to survive infection by a microorganism, such as parasites, bacteria or viruses. If the immune response is too weak then the pathogen will win, while an immune response that is too strong can cause collateral damage, called immune-mediated pathology and disease. My laboratory asks what is important for balancing a protective immune response and preventing immune-mediated pathology during chronic infection. My research focuses on an essential immune cell, the T regulatory cell (Tregs) that regulates the amount of immune response directed at invading microorganisms. In addition to preventing unwanted immune responses directed at the body’s own tissues, Tregs play an important role in tuning the immune response to infection. If there is an impairment of Treg development or function then uncontrolled inflammation, immune-mediated pathology, and disease can occur. We use the parasite Toxoplasma gondii to investigate how immune regulation is altered by chronic infection. Ingestion of T. gondii results in a chronic infection with tissue cysts residing in skeletal muscle and the central nervous system.
My laboratory uses a mouse model of Toxoplasma infection to study how the establishment of infection and its chronicity alter Treg and their responses. We showed that in mice, T. gondii infection causes severe inflammation of the muscle (myositis) and a loss of muscle function. We found that this happens because the infection alters the function of Tregs and they acquire a tissue injurious function, instead of a tissue reparative function. We further showed that chronic infection stunts the ability of macrophages to participate in the wound healing response. Finally, we found that chronic infection impairs the renewal of muscle stem cells that are required for the regeneration of skeletal muscle. We are currently asking questions about how the interactions between these 3 critical cell types occur, and how chronic infection impacts this cellular network. We are also interested in identifying methods to intervene and dampen inflammation and promote the return of function to the muscle.

Education and Training:

  • PhD, Immunology, University of Connecticut Health Center (2007)
  • BS, Pathobiology, University of Connecticut, Cum Laude (2002)

Employment:

  • Assistant Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (2018-present)
  • Adjunct Member, Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy Program, Roswell Park Cancer Institute (2014-present)
  • Research Assistant Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (2017–2018)
  • Assistant Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (2013–2017)
  • Research Fellow, Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institutes of Health National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (2010–2013)
  • Post Doctoral Fellow, Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institutes of Health National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (2007–2010)

Awards and Honors:

  • Early Career Faculty Travel Award (2020)
  • Early Career Faculty Travel Award (2018)
  • Careers in Immunology Fellowship (2016)
  • Early Career Faculty Travel Award (2016)
  • Ray Owen Poster Award, 52nd Midwinter Conference of Immunologists (2013)
  • Fellows Award for Research Excellence, NIH (2010)
  • Research Fellow Award (2009)
  • Fellows Award for Research Excellence, NIH (2008)
  • Keystone Travel Award, Regulatory T cells Meeting (2007)
  • Lepow Fellowship (2006)
  • Huang Foundation Trainee Achievement Award (2006)
  • Keystone Travel Award, Tolerance, Autoimmunity and Regulation Meeting (2006)
  • Keystone Travel Award, Tolerance, Autoimmunity and Regulation Meeting (2004)

Research Expertise:

  • Immune Regulation and Wound Repair: Examining the interactions between Tregs, macrophages and stromal cells in skeletal muscle
  • Immunobiology: Stability and function of regulatory T cell
  • Immunoparasitology: Immune regulation in tissues during parasitic infections
  • Mucosal immunology: Regulatory T cell function in the gastrointestinal tract

Research Centers:

  • Witebsky Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • May 2020–April 2022
    Antibody Fragments as Biochemical Tools to Interrogate CD9 Function in Inflammatory Diseases
    NIH/NIGMS
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • June 2017–June 2020
    Dysregulation of regulatory T cells during chronic infection in muscle
    NIH
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • November 2013–November 2016
    Deciphering the mechanism of how GATA3 controls the fate of regulatory T cells at mucosal sites
    Crohn‘s and Colitis Foundation of America
    Role: Principal Investigator
    $268,500

Journal Articles:

See all (22 more)

Abstracts:

  • (2020) Tbet-expressing Tregs protect against lethal immunopathology during T. gondii infection. Immunology 2020. (May), (864)Poster; Oral
  • Warunek, J, Jin, R.M., and Wohlfert, E.A. (2019) Tbet+ Tregs protect against lethal immunopathology during T. gondii infection. 2019 New York Upstate Immunology Conference. Cooperstown, New York (Oct)Oral
  • Jordan Warunek, Richard M Jin, Brandon Marzullo and Elizabeth A Wohlfert. (2018) Tbet+ Tregs protect against lethal immunopathology during T. gondii infection. Immunology 2018. Austin, Texas (May)Poster
  • Jin, R.M., Blair, S.J., Heffner, R.R., Blader, I.J., and E.A. Wohlfert. (2017) Pathogenic regulatory T cells promote immunopathology during infectious myositis. 2017 American Physician Scientist Association Northeast Regional Meeting. Rochester, New York (Oct)Poster
  • Jin, R.M., Blair, S.J., Heffner, R.R., Blader, I.J., and EA Wohlfert. (2017) Evaluation of immune mediated myogenesis during chronic infection with T. gondii. Keystone Symposium on Mononuclear Phagocytes in Health, Immune Defense and Disease. Austin, Texas (May)Poster
  • Jin, R.M., Blair, S.J., Heffner, R.R., Blader, I.J., and E.A. Wohlfert. (2016) Pathogenic regulatory T cells promote immunopathology during infectious myositis. American Physician Scientist Association Northeast Regional Meeting. Buffalo, New York (Oct)Poster; Oral
  • Blair, S.J., Grainger, J., Bouladoux, N., Urban, J., and E.A. Wohlfert. (2016) Gata3 expression by Tregs is required for mounting a Th2 immune response to the helminth gastrointestinal infection of H. polygyrus. Mucosal Immunology Course and Symposium. Toronto, (Jul)Oral
  • Iluore, J.O., Jin, R.M*., Blair, S.J., Schiavoni, E., and EA Wohlfert. (2016) Infection Induced Thymic Atrophy affects development of T Regulatory Cells. University at Buffalo Annual Research Day. Buffalo, New York (Jun)Poster
  • Jin, R.M., Blair, S.J., Heffner, R.R., Blader, I.J., and E.A. Wohlfert. (2016) Pathogenic regulatory T cells promote immunopathology during infectious myositis. 28th Annual Conference on Microbial Pathogenesis. Buffalo, New York (May)Poster
  • Jin, R.M., Blair, S.J., Heffner, R.R., Blader, I.J., and E.A. Wohlfert. (2016) Pathogenic regulatory T cells promote immunopathology during infectious myositis. Immunology 2016. Seattle, Washington (May)Poster; Oral
  • Jin, R.M, Blair, S.J., Heffner, R.R., Blader, I.J., and E.A. Wohlfert. (2016) Dysregulation of tissue-reparative regulatory T cell function in infectious myositis. 12th Annual American Physician Scientists Association Meeting. Chicago, Illinois (Apr)Poster
  • Jin, R.M., Blair, S.J., Heffner, R.R., Blader, I.J., and E.A. Wohlfert. (2016) Pathogenic regulatory T cells promote immunopathology during infectious myositis. 16th Annual Woods Hole Immunoparasitology Meeting. Woods Hole, Massachusetts (Apr)Poster; Oral
  • Jin, R.M., Blair, S.J., Blader, I.J., and E.A. Wohlfert. (2015) Getting the balance right: Immunoregulation of host-defense and tissue repair in skeletal muscle during T. gondii infection. 1st Annual Immune Imaging Symposium. Rochester, New York (Nov)Poster
  • Jin, R.M., Blair, S.J., Heffner, R.R., Blader, I.J., and E.A. Wohlfert. (2015) Getting the balance right: Immunoregulation of host-defense and tissue repair in skeletal muscle during T. gondii infection. 2015 American Physician Scientist Association Northeast Regional Meeting. Syracuse, New York (Oct)Poster
  • Jin, R.M., Blair, S.J., Heffner, R.R., Blader, I.J., and E.A. Wohlfert. (2015) Getting the balance right: Immunoregulation of host-defense and tissue repair in skeletal muscle during T. gondii infection. 18th Annual New York Upstate Immunology Conference. Bolton Landing, New York (Oct)Poster
  • Schiavoni, E., Blair, S.J., Jin, R.M., Iluore, J.O., and E.A. Wohlfert. (2015) The Development of T Regulatory Cells During Toxoplasma gondii Infection Induced Thymic Atrophy. 18th Annual New York Upstate Immunology Conference. Bolton Landing, New York (Oct)Poster
  • Blair, S.J., Iluore, J.O., Jin, R.M. and E.A. Wohlfert. (2015) The Development of T Regulatory Cells During Toxoplasma gondii Infection Induced Thymic Atrophy. Buffalo Immunology Conference. Chautauqua, New York (Mar)Poster
  • Jin, R.M., Blair, S.J., Blader, I.J., and E.A. Wohlfert. (2015) Tissue-specific immunoregulation of skeletal muscle during chronic T. gondii infection. Buffalo Immunology Conference. Chautauqua, New York (Mar)Poster
See all (8 more)

Professional Memberships:

  • American Association of Immunologists (2016–present)

Presentations:

  • "Infection Induced Pathogenic Tregs and the consequences on tissue repair during chronic muscle infection" Mechanisms of Parasitism Seminar Series, Immunology Program, University of Iowa (2018)
  • "Pathogenic Tregs promote myositis during skeletal muscle Infection" British Society of Immunology Manchester University, Department of Immunology (2016)
  • "Regulatory Affairs of Gata3" American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Meeting (2016)
  • "Tregs impair tissue repair program in skeletal muscle during Infection" Department of Immunology Seminar Series (2015)
  • "Dynamics of Regulatory T cells throughout infection: What happens Next" Upstate Immunology Conference Annual Meeting (2015)
  • "Dynamics of Tregs during Infection" University at Buffalo Department of Oral Biology (2014)
  • "Stability and Function of Tregs during inflammation; They just GATA have it" Buffalo Immunology Conference (2014)
  • "Transcription Factor Networks Control Regulatory T cell Stability and Function During Inflammation" University at Buffalo Department of Biochemistry (2014)
  • "Transcription Factor Networks Control Regulatory T Cell Stability and Function During Inflammation" Uniformed Services University, School of Medicine, Department of Medicine (2013)

Service Activities:

  • ; Assistant Director of Graduate Studies (2021–present)
  • Agence Nationale de la Recherche, Paris, France (2021)
  • American Association of Immunologists, Abstract Programming Committee; Abstract Programming Committee (2019–present)
  • Collegiate Science & Technology Entry Program Research Symposium, University at Buffalo; Poster Judge (2019)
  • National Medical Research Council, Ministry of Health, Singapore; National Medical Research Council (2019)
  • Immunity and Host Defense, CSR; Early Career Reviewer (2017)
  • Medical Research Council, Infections and Immunity Board (2017)
  • MD/PhD Admissions Committee (2016–2018)
  • Redesigned the departmental curriculum for the graduate students; Curriculum Review Committee (2013–2014)
  • New York Immunology Conference, Scientific Advisory Board member; Member (2013–present)
  • New York Upstate Immunology Conference; Scientific Advisory Board member (2013–present)
  • ; Graduate Affairs Committee Member (2013–2018)
  • J Leuk Biol, J Immunol, Nat Communications, Immunol Invest, Plos Path, Plos One, Cytokine, Front Immunol, Front Cell Inf Micro, Nat Com Bio, Scientific Reports, American J Path; Reviewer (2012–present)

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Contact Information

Room 5256
955 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: 7168293969
wohlfert@buffalo.edu