lymph node with abscess; image from NIH Image Gallery

Immunity and Pathogenesis Program

Understanding the nature of inflammation and immunity helps scientists formulate new approaches to treat diseases like AIDS, influenza, autoimmunity, and cancer.


Our research is leading to the design of anti-viral compounds, vaccines, and new approaches to treat cancer. We are studying the complexities of the host immune system in inflammation, autoimmune and infectious diseases. In cancer, we are learning how to modulate the immune system to fight the growth and spread of tumors.

What is the focus of our program—What questions are we asking? 

The Program is broadly defined by the focus on cellular and molecular mechanisms of the host immune system, versus the mechanisms that viruses and other pathogens employ to evade immune recognition. Current efforts include approaches to characterize host microenvironments and signaling pathways impacted by viral pathogens, neuroinflammation, mucosal immunology and the microbiota, immune regulation by members of the TNF superfamily, functional discrimination of CD4+ T cell subsets and understanding the molecular determinants of B cell differentiation. 

How will our research help patients? 

Our research is of direct relevance to the design of anti-viral compounds and vaccines. Findings from animal models and human cells also provide insight into the etiology and treatment of chronic inflammatory, autoimmune and infectious diseases. In cancer treatment, the use of biologics to selectively modulate immune cell function is an area that continues to show promise in the clinic. A better understanding of the functional complexities of the immune system can also be applied to improve the diagnosis, stratification and treatment of disease as it pertains to the individual and personalized medicine.



Jiang LL, Zhu B, Zhao Y, Li X, Liu T, Pina-Crespo J, Zhou L, Xu W, Rodriguez MJ, Yu H, Cleveland DW, Ravits J, Da Cruz S, Long T, Zhang D, Huang TY, Xu H
J Clin Invest 2019 May 21;130:3103-3120
López CA, Swift MF, Xu XP, Hanein D, Volkmann N, Gnanakaran S
Structure 2019 Jun 4;27(6):988-999.e4
Somers K, Wen VW, Middlemiss SMC, Osborne B, Forgham H, Jung M, Karsa M, Clifton M, Bongers A, Gao J, Mayoh C, Raoufi-Rad N, Kusnadi EP, Hannan KM, Scott DA, Kwek A, Liu B, Flemming C, Chudakova DA, Pandher R, Failes TW, Lim J, Angeli A, Osterman AL, Imamura T, Kees UR, Supuran CT, Pearson RB, Hannan RD, Davis TP, McCarroll J, Kavallaris M, Turner N, Gudkov AV, Haber M, Norris MD, Henderson MJ
Oncogene 2019 May;38(20):3824-3842