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:

The Tissue Microenvironment and Immune Regulation in Diabetes

IsletsWe are studying the regulatory mechanisms that turn on and off immune responses within inflamed tissues. In particular, we focus on interactions between the immune system and hyaluronan (HA) and heparan sulfate (HS),  prominent components of the extracellular matrix. We are interested in how the matrix surrounding cells and present in tissues influences local immune regulation, particularly the behavior of FoxP3+ regulatory T-cells in type 1 diabetes (T1D).

In addition to elucidating fundamental mechanisms of immune regulation, we are working on novel therapeutic strategies that will prevent T1D by targeting the extracellular matrix in autoimmune insulitis.

The Immunology of Diabetic Wounds

Chronic wounds, like tissues under autoimmune attack, are associated with an inflamed extracellular matrix that contributes to immune dysregulation and chronic wounds. We use models of diabetic wound healing to study how the extracellular matrix governs wound healing and local immunity.

The Immunology of Microbial Biofilms

pf4Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a major pathogen in wound infections and other settings. The virulence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is predicated on its ability to form biofilms. These are networks of host and microbial extracellular matrix that promote colonization, antibiotic resistance, and immune evasion. We are studying how polymers and bacterial factors within those biofilms suppress local immune responses in infected wounds. Further, we are developing innovative strategies to treat chronic infections by disrupting microbial biofilms.