Current Research and Scholarly Interests
Mast cells, which normally reside in the tissues, and basophils, which circulate in the blood, are major effector cells of asthma and other IgE-associated allergic disorders and immune responses to parasites. However, mast cells also have been implicated (as effector and/or immunoregulatory cells) in many other settings, including certain autoimmune or inflammatory disorders, innate immune responses to pathogens and resistance to endogenous and exogenous agents (such as animal venoms) which can express significant toxicity; mast cells also may contribute importantly, in certain settings, to angiogenesis, the regulation of epithelial development and function, and fibrosis and other examples of tissue remodeling.
The goals of Dr. Galli's laboratory are to develop and employ genetic approaches in mice to understand the regulation of mast cell and basophil development and the expression of mast cell and basophil function, and to elucidate the roles of these cells in health and disease. In parallel with these mouse studies, we investigate the roles of mast cells and basophils in human health and disease by conducting studies of human mast cells and basophils in vitro, or by analyzing specimens derived from patients with asthma, atopic dermatitis, or other disorders in which mast cells or basophils have been implicated.
In addition to studies focused on mast cells and basophils, the Galli lab also analyzes immunological mechanisms which underlie the development of severe allergies, such as those to certain foods, and the immunological regulatory mechanisms that can be engaged therapeutically to reduce the severity of these disorders or ameliorate them, e.g., via the induction of desensitization or tolerance. Finally, we are attempting to define "biomarkers", such as changes in the levels of surface structures on circulating basophils, which can be used to monitor the severity of allergic disorders and/or the patients' responses to immunotherapy or other therapeutic interventions.