Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research CenterVaccine and Infectious Disease Division1100 Eastlake Ave. E., E5-154Seattle, WA 98109-2216
My laboratory studies 2 populations of the immune system, CD8 T cells and NK cells, using in vivo (mouse) and in vitro model systems. Our goal is to understand the molecular basis of cell activation and differentiation to learn how to manipulate the cells for therapeutic purposes.
Regulating CD8 T Cell Responses
Many established vaccination programs depend on an efficient antibody response, but this classic approach has failed for current challenges such as malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis. CD8 T cells are key players in protecting against intracellular pathogens by eliminating infected cells and hence we believe a strong CD8 T cell response will be an integral part of a successful vaccine. By studying the mechanisms that drive a naïve T cell to differentiate into an effector T cell and then into a memory T cell we will increase our understanding of how CD8 T cell memory is generated and maintained. This will allow us to improve vaccination strategies.
CD8 T cells can also eliminate uninfected cells, including tumor cells. While enhancing CD8 T cell responses is a main goal of anti-cancer treatments such as adoptive immunotherapy, T cell responses aimed at a transplanted organ or cells need to be shut down efficiently without paralyzing the whole immune system. We are exploring pathways to either induce or reduce programmed cell death in effector T cells to either enhance desired responses or halt unwanted responses without systemically affecting the immune system.
Using NK Cells against Opportunistic Infections
Hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) and solid organ transplantation (SOT) are important treatment options for several life-threatening diseases. Survival of patients undergoing these treatments has been markedly improved by advances in immunosuppression and conditioning. Infections, however, remain a significant risk for transplant recipients because immune responses are blunted to aid graft survival. My lab studies the role and therapeutic potential of NK cells in protecting against these opportunistic infections.
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Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center | University of Washington
Institute for Systems Biology | Seattle Biomed