The B cell response to influenza A virus infection or vaccination generates virus-specific antibodies (Abs) and memory B cells (MBCs) that play a key role in protective immunity. Preexisting influenza-specific Abs can block or quickly terminate infection in an immune individual. This is especially the case when the Abs bind to the viral hemagglutinin (HA), the viral attachment protein and the target of the most efficiently neutralizing Abs.
Learn more about Human B cell responses to influenza infection and vaccination
You always hear that the flu vaccine isn’t 100% effective against seasonal influenza. We are studying people in the Rochester area who present with acute influenza infections. We collect, sequence, and isolate the viruses they are infected with, looking for changes in their antigenicity compared to the vaccine strains for that year.
Learn more about why doesn't the flu vaccine work?
Viral infections, including influenza, induce the activation of host innate immune responses that aim to control replication of infecting viruses. Thus, to efficiently replicate within the host, influenza A viruses encode the non-structural 1 (NS1) protein, which is the main protein counteracting the host innate antiviral responses, through different mechanisms. We collect, sequence, and isolate seasonal influenza viruses infecting subjects in the Rochester, NY area, and look for amino acid changes in the NS1 protein.
Learn more about Effect of influenza NS1 variability on innate immune responses and virus pathogenesis
Using publicly available sequence data from influenza viruses, as well as sequence data from our lab, we are developing mathematical models of how people respond to vaccination. The tools we have developed are useful for understanding the evolution of influenza viruses over time, for choosing optimal potential pandemic vaccine strains for stockpiling, for understanding how prior immunity to influenza affects vaccination, and simulation of alternative vaccination strategies that can achieve more broadly protective immune responses.
Learn more about Computational modeling and tool development for understanding human immune responses to influenza
CD8+ T cells can control influenza infection by killing infected cells so they can no longer make virus. Because influenza only infects the cells that line the respiratory tract, they must be able to travel through the circulation, exit the vasculature, and migrate within the airway tissues to locate the virus infected cells.
Learn more about Dynamic regulation of CD8+ T cell motility in the influenza infected airway
Infants are our most precious and vulnerable population. They are at increased risk of severe disease caused by respiratory pathogens that include viruses and bacteria. Their immune systems are both naïve and immature and much less able to control infections. Yet we know very little about human infant immune system development and function during the first weeks and months of life. As our ability to save the lives of babies born prematurely improves, many more infants survive.
Learn more about Understanding human infant T cell development, immunity, and risk of disease