Research

A macrophage (purple) engulfing Cryptococci (green)
Computational simulation of phagocytosis of spherical particle

Our research focuses on the study of infectious disease to both improve patient treatment and further our fundamental understanding of how the immune system functions. We use a multidisciplinary approach in collaboration with biologists, clinicians, engineers and physicists. In this way, we aim to use the best experimental model to answer the specific research question at hand.

We have a particular interest in opportunistic fungal infections in immunocompromise. One example is Cryptococcus neoformans, which is a fungal pathogen of humans and causes hundreds of thousands of deaths in the severely immunocompromised world-wide each year. Most life-threatening infections are in individuals with AIDS in Africa, where it is the most common cause of meningo-encephalitis and the cause of ~15% of AIDS-related deaths. In our studies of cryptococcal disease, my group has contributed to how the immune system is defective in responding to cryptococcal infection in immunocompromise, and what features of cryptococci drive their virulence.

Currently, we have three research priorities:

● Macrophage mediated immunity to opportunistic infection

● Central nervous system pathology in infection and immune system disease

● Mechanisms and regulation of phagocytosis

Mouse lung section after incubation with beads
Cryptococcus system infection in zebrafish