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:
Tissue Matrix and Autoimmunity
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 (T1D). 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, like tissues under autoimmune attack, are associated with an inflamed extracellular matrix that contributes to immune dysregulation and delayed wound healing. We use models of diabetic wound healing to study how the extracellular matrix and regulatory T-cells govern wound healing. We are also working to devise therapies to promote wound healing and minimize scarring.
The Immunology of Microbial Biofilms
The virulence of the major human pathogen 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 biofilms and particularly microbial polymers within those biofilms suppress local immune responses in infected wounds. Further, we are developing innovative strategies to treat chronic infections by disrupting microbial biofilms.