Understanding the differentiation, function, and plasticity of CD4 T cells in the context of various allergic, inflammatory, and malignant disorders.
My current research objectives are directed toward understanding immune responses in vivo. Much work has been invested in determining the molecular events that drive CD4+ T helper cell differentiation in vitro as well as the critical cellular players necessary for initiating an adaptive immune response within lymphoid tissues. However, it has been difficult to address true CD4+ T helper cell biology due to a lack of experimental systems designed to access CD4+ T cell function directly in vivo.
The broad, long term goals of this research program are to understand the cellular and molecular events driving the differentiation of naïve CD4+ T cells into different T-helper cell subsets, and to investigate the function, plasticity, and cell fate decisions of these cells during a primary and secondary immune response. Elucidating the signals and events that regulate T-helper cell differentiation (i.e. Th1, Th2,TFH) and function (i.e. cytokine production) will have broad implications in basic CD4+ T cell biology and provide important insights that will aid in the fight against infectious disease, cancer, and allergic/inflammatory diseases.
To investigate these questions in vivo, we are developing and utilizing novel mouse systems to "visualize" CD4 T cell function in the context of disease in the living animal. Our current projects focus on understanding immunity to parasitic infections/allergic conditions, B cell lymphoma development, and the pathogenesis of rare inflammatory disorders.