Skip to main content
Explore URMC

URMC / Labs / Topham Lab / News


20192018201720162015 Archive

David Topham's Flu Center Receives $5.4M in NIH Funding

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The National Institutes of Health-funded New York Influenza Center of Excellence (NYICE), led by David Topham, Ph.D., received $5.4 million in new awards from the NIH to conduct a variety of projects related to the immune response to flu infection and vaccination. NYICE is a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional center that emphasizes basic and clinical research on human influenza.

The funding covers 13 new projects that will be conducted by investigators at URMC, as well as scientists from institutions that are members of NYICE, such as the University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago, Duke and the University of Minnesota. Research will be conducted in the U.S. and abroad, including studies in Melbourne, Australia and Stockholm, Sweden.

Development of a universal flu vaccine is the focus of several of the new projects. The comparison of different types of vaccines (egg-based vaccine; cell culture vaccine; vaccine made in insect cells) is another important study, as the widely-used egg-based vaccine wasn’t particularly effective in the 2017-2018 flu season. Investigators will also work to better understand how the viruses we’re exposed to as children influence immunity later on in life.

In addition to Topham, URMC researchers Andrea J. Sant, Ph.D., Jennifer Nayak, M.D., Angela Branche, M.D., Luis Martinez-Sobrido, Ph.D. and James J. Kobie, Ph.D. will spearhead several of the new projects.

Using the Microbiome to Help Premature Babies Grow

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Study analyzes bacteria in the gut to inform feeding, boost growth and development supported by the National Institutes of Health-funded Respiratory Pathogens Research Center at URMC

About half of babies born prematurely struggle to grow, putting them at risk of health problems that can last a lifetime. Despite years of research, physicians lack a method that consistently helps these infants thrive. A study suggests that the gut microbiome – the trillions of tiny bacteria that live in the digestive tract – could help doctors personalize nutrients and feeding patterns to help the most vulnerable babies get a stronger start to life.

Peering into Poop

From the moment we’re born, the bacteria that live in and on us influence the development and function of every major system in the body. These microorganisms are essential for our health, and poopy diapers contain a treasure trove of information about the ones that live in a baby’s gut. Steven Gill, Ph.D.

A team of pediatricians and microbiologists at the University of Rochester Medical Center collected stool samples from 95 preterm infants, born at an average of 29 weeks. Samples were taken weekly while the infants were treated in the neonatal intensive care unit, which ranged from a few weeks to six months.

The researchers analyzed shifts in the gut microbiome over time and the type and amount of nutrients each baby received. They found that the gut bacteria go through changes as a baby matures and identified distinct phases where particular categories of good bacteria dominate.

They also discovered that when the good bacteria thrived, the infants matured more quickly. Infants whose bacterial colonies remained stagnant saw slower rates of growth.

Read More: Using the Microbiome to Help Premature Babies Grow

Visualizing Immune System Data to Develop New Treatments and Vaccines

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

David Topham, Ph.D. was recently featured in the Medical Center "Make a Difference Campaign.

Viruses and bacteria that infect the respiratory tract are a leading cause of death worldwide, despite advances in antibiotics and vaccines. At the University of Rochester, our history of vaccine development is responsible for saving hundreds of thousands of lives each year around the world. Today, we are using data science innovation to gain new insights into how the immune system works to reduce the global burden of respiratory pathogens and develop more effective treatments and vaccines.

Read the flyer.

Is It Too Soon to Get the Flu Vaccine?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Pharmacies have been advertising the shot for weeks already, but in some cases it might pay to wait before you vaccinate

After last winter’s severe flu season—and in the face of all those flu shot ads at pharmacies—you may be wondering if it's best to get vaccinated right now to safeguard yourself this winter.

After all, last year’s season set new records both for numbers of children who died from flu and for flu-related hospitalizations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But should you get the shot now, before the flu even arrives? Or might that undermine its effectiveness in January and February, when flu season is in full swing?

The current formulation of the flu shot being used there (which is the same as the U.S. vaccine) appears to be well-matched with the viruses circulating there.

That could mean we’re in store for a mild season in the Northern Hemisphere, too—as long as those strains are the same ones that crop up here.

Another good sign is that so far, the strains of flu virus currently circulating in southern countries appear similar to the strains that predominated during last winter’s season here (notably, subtypes of influenza B and the H1N1 and H3N2 strains of influenza A), says David Topham, Ph.D., director of the New York Influenza Center of Excellence and professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Read More: Is It Too Soon to Get the Flu Vaccine?

Should You Get a Flu Shot After the Flu?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

If you skipped this year’s flu shot and then came down with the virus, you may think there’s no point to getting the vaccine now.

But you’d be wrong.

There are good reasons to get a flu shot, even if you’ve already been sick, says David Topham, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Rochester and director of the New York Influenza Center of Excellence.

You can catch the flu more than once in a season—because having one “type” of flu doesn’t provide immunity against the other types that may be circulating. “The way your immune system sees them is very different,” Topham says. Two types commonly make people ill: type A and type B. This flu season, as is typical, most cases of flu so far have been type A (the H3N2 strain).

Read More: Should You Get a Flu Shot After the Flu?