My research efforts focus primarily on human CD8 T cell responses to influenza virus. Influenza vaccine is highly effective at producing neutralizing antibodies when well-targeted to the given circulating strain. Unfortunately influenza virus is known to have significant genetic drift that requires annual redesign of vaccine. More importantly, major changes in hemagglutinin protein can result in pandemic and more serious disease, particularly in children. CD8 T cells may play an important role in protecting humans by recognizing more conserved, internal antigens presented by infected cells. My research seeks to understand normal naïve CD8 T cell responses to novel virus, as well as understanding the role of CD8 T cell memory responses in protecting humans from drifted or shifted influenza virus.
It is thought that NK cells likely have helper function in orchestrating a series of protective adaptive and innate responses, but it is unclear how first, NK cells recognize and activate against virus-infected cells and second, how their chemical messages are sent and interpreted by other immune cells. My research seeks to understand the aspect of how NK effector function shapes the adaptive immune response to influenza infection.