Advanced NICU care has improved survival of very premature infants, but their improved survival is accompanied by long-term complications such as impaired lung function. Infants born prematurely are highly susceptible to recurrent, severe respiratory viruses, suggesting a state of immune deficiency. They also suffer from life-threatening diseases characterized by chronic inflammation including bronchopulmonary dysplasia and necrotizing enterocolitis. Mechanisms underlying this clinical paradox (immune activation and susceptibility to infection) are not well understood.
Our lab seeks to elucidate the molecular programs that determine age-related immune cell-intrinsic behavior, the specific pathways through which early exposures disrupt normal immune development, and finally, the clinical consequences of abnormal immune development during infancy. We have a particular interest in adaptive immunity, given the longevity of T and B cells, and their ability to “remember” previous exposures. We deploy a systems-based approach, using high parameter flow cytometric and high-throughput sequencing techniques to interrogate T cell receptor, cytokine signaling and functional differences that are intrinsic to immune cells in various stages of fetal and postnatal development. We apply a cross-disciplinary approach, working closely with investigators in Neonatology, Obstetrics, Infectious Diseases, Microbiology, Immunology, Genetics, Biostatistics and Computational Biology to cell behavior in the context of longitudinal, translational human studies.
Dr. Scheible is a member of the Society for Pediatric Research and fellow, of the American Academy of Pediatrics.