Impact of environmental agents on the incidence and severity of infectious, allergic and autoimmune diseases
Now, more than ever, we appreciate the impact of infectious diseases on our quality of life. With a strong focus on viral diseases, such as influenza viruses and coronaviruses, our research is defining how environmental factors influence host immune response, immune cell development, and the balance between host immune defenses and viral immune evasion mechanisms.
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Impact of environmental exposures during early life development on immune responses later in life, and across generations
Early life exposures to environmental chemicals, and other differences in maternal and early life environment, can contribute to immune dysfunction later in life. Although these associations have been made, how exposure to environmental factors lead to changes later on is not fully understood.
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AhR Regulation of the Mature Immune System
Infectious diseases remain a major cause of illness and death. Conventional thinking is that fighting infection is a race between a pathogen's ability to evade host defenses and multiply, and the host's ability to destroy it. Research by our group challenges this paradigm with a novel concept: environmental factors play a fundamental role in the ultimate outcome of an infection.
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AHR regulation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells during homeostasis and emergency hematopoiesis
This project focuses on discovering how the AHR regulates the most primordial cells of the immune system: hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Several lines of evidence indicate that the AHR is a key factor controlling several aspects of hematopoiesis, including stem and progenitor cell dormancy and differentiation, yet little is known about how this occurs. Using a combination of multi-parametric flow cytometry, transcriptomics, as well as genetic and pharmacological tools, we are defining how AHR regulates hematopoiesis. Our discoveries will contribute to the fundamental understanding of AHR as a regulator of stem and progenitor cells, and also provide exciting new approaches to prevent and treat diseases, as we are delineating how AHR regulates hematopoiesis in the absence of exogenous threats, and also in the context of emergency hematopoiesis during infection.
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Early Life Exposures and Epigenetic Regulation
Exposure to environmental pollutants early in life is an often overlooked but important contributor to changes in immune system functions later in life. Using clinically relevant mouse models and environmentally relevant exposures, we have several on-going projects to define cellular effects of early life exposure that causes long-lasting alterations to the function of the immune system. Exposures include small molecules that bind to the AHR, such as dioxins, and endocrine disrupting chemicals.
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