Current Research and Scholarly Interests
Our lab studies how immune responses are regulated within injured and infected tissues. We work at the intersection of immunology, structural biology, and microbiology to develop novel therapeutics to promote wound healing and immune tolerance.
Major areas of investigation include:
We are studying the regulatory mechanisms that turn on and off immune responses within inflamed tissues. In particular, we focus on interactions between hyaluronan (HA), a prominent component of inflamed extracellular matrix, and regulatory T-cells in type 1 diabetes and asthma models. Our data suggest that the size and amount of HA polymers within injured and healing tissues provide contextual cues that help govern local immune responses. In addition to elucidating the underlying mechanisms, we are working on novel therapeutic strategies that prevent autoimmunity by targeting the extracellular matrix.
The Immunology of Wound Healing
Chronic wounds are also associated with an inflamed extracellular matrix that contributes to immune dysregulation and delayed wound healing. We use diabetic models of chronic wounds to study how the extracellular matrix and regulatory T-cells govern wound healing. We are also working to devise therapies to promote healing and minimize scarring.
The Immunology of Microbial Biofilms
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a major human pathogen that causes chronic infections of wounds and other tissues. The virulence of P. aeruginosa is dependent on its ability to form biofilms – communities of bacteria and extracellular matrix that promote colonization, antibiotic resistance, and immune evasion. We are studying how biofilm components suppress local immune responses in infected wounds. Further, we are developing innovative strategies to treat chronic infections by disrupting microbial biofilms.