President of Texas Biomedical Research Institute
My laboratory studies human monocyte and macrophage biology and the pathogenesis of tuberculosis and diseases due to other intracellular pathogens that subvert lung immune mechanisms. My research team has made major discoveries regarding the human innate immune response to pathogens, and we are translating these into host-directed drug discovery platforms for infectious diseases. Another focus of my work is understanding how the alveolar (gas exchange compartments of the lung) environment affects the biology of alveolar macrophages in ways that directly impact the host response to airborne infectious agents. Alveolar macrophages are considered an important boundary between the body and the outside world. We are also interested in the impact of diabetes and HIV on the immune response to M. tuberculosis, susceptibility to infection (human to human variation in immune responses), and new imaging and drug discovery platforms for mycobacteria including development of an in vitro granuloma model. In the area of aging and tuberculosis, my research team is studying the unique signature of the baseline inflammatory monocyte/macrophage in the setting of aging. This type of baseline inflammation is also seen in other disease states, making this research broadly applicable and important to pursue.
Associated Diseases: Airborne respiratory pathogens, chronic lung inflammatory disorders, sarcoidosis
Techniques Used: Macrophage cell biology, Confocal and live imaging microscopy, Immunology: flow cytometry, Western blot, ELISA, qRT-PCR, Gene knockdown, network analysis, Bacteriology
Specific Field of Study: Tuberculosis
Sub-Field of Study: Respiratory pathogens, Lung innate immunity