Basic Science Division
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Research and Clinical Interests
My laboratory focuses on basic research issues pertaining to viral immunity in the central nervous system. Specifically, we use measles virus (MV) and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) as tools to understand: 1) how viruses gain access to the brain parenchyma; 2) how these viruses are transported within neuron populations; 3) how the host immune response is induced and recruited to the brain, and 4) how virus-infected neurons are recognized by infiltrating T lymphocytes. Over the past few years, we have shown that neurokinin-1, a neurotransmitter receptor, can serve as a novel fusion-protein specific receptor for MV on neurons, which may be relevant to understanding how this virus causes CNS disease in infected humans.
Moreover, we have delineated a unique, MHC-independent mechanism of immune-mediated clearance of viruses from neurons, predicated on neuron-specific differences in response to the anti-viral cytokine, interferon-gamma. In addition to these ongoing efforts, our lab has recently been supported to the study how previous maternal exposure to an antigen (e.g., via vaccination) can influence the subsequent response of her offspring. This issue is particularly relevant to measles, given public concerns about the safety of the live attenuated vaccine, and the prevalence of lethal acute MV infections worldwide. By employing mouse models to study basic aspects of viral replication and pathogenesis, we hope to contribute to future efforts to design safer and more efficacious vaccines.