Research activities in our laboratory are focused on specific T cell immunity in the context of infectious and autoimmune disease. T cells are cardinal components of the adaptive immune system and as such constitute non-redundant agents of effective and efficient immune protection. Yet T cells can also operate as purveyors of pathology as evidenced by the progressive tissue damage accrued in the course of many autoimmune diseases. My associates and I are primarily interested in defining pertinent molecular pathways that control the generation, maintenance and modulation of three “classes” of T cell responses: protective T cell immunity against viral and bacterial pathogens (“T cell memory”), destructive T cell immunity directed towards the body’s own tissues (“autoimmunity/type 1 diabetes”), and dysfunctional T cell immunity under conditions of chronic viral disease. Despite the fundamentally different consequences for health and disease in these experimental and naturally occurring scenarios, the regulation of protective, destructive or ineffectual T cell responses is apparently governed by the dynamic balance of shared molecular interactions. In our work, which draws on the disciplines of immunology, microbiology, virology and pathology, we employ an array of contemporary models and methodologies to gain novel insights into the regulation of specific T cell immunity, and to harness these observations for the development of improved diagnostic, prophylactic and therapeutic modalities.
In addition, my colleagues and I strive to provide a platform for members of the department who seek to tackle immunological questions in their own work. To this extent, we offer advice, protocols and practical expertise to facilitate and promote immunological research as part of the wide-ranging activities of our scientific and clinical communities.