The Immunology Center conducts research into the molecular basis of immune processes that are applicable to a broad range of diseases, including many inherited immunodeficiencies, cancers, autoimmune diseases, and allergic diseases. Center investigators explore research areas, including the normal function, signaling processes, gene regulation, and epigenetics related to the activation and function of immune cells. The goal of the Center is to understand fundamental mechanisms of biology and to promote the translation of these findings into the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches in humans. This basic research helps fuel scientific discovery that may one day help advance research related to heart, lung, blood, and sleep conditions or other fields.
The Laboratory for Complement and Inflammation Research, led by Dr. Claudia Kemper, aims to understand the unexpected roles of complement proteins in the regulation of key basic processes of the cell in health and disease. Complement is generally well appreciated as a serum-effective system and critical arm of innate immunity required for the detection and removal of invading pathogens. Recent work from Dr. Kemper's lab, has highlighted an equally profound impact of complement on adaptive immunity through intracellularly and/or autocrine active complement that mediates direct regulation of CD4+ T cells: signals mediated by T cell-expressed anaphylatoxin receptor C3aR and the complement regulator CD46 (which binds the complement activation fragment C3b) are critical checkpoints in human T cell lineage commitment and control initiation and resolution of inflammatory Th1 responses. The central goal of Dr. Kemper's research is to define the functional roles and regulative mechanisms of intracellular/autocrine complement and assess their biological relevance with an eye on identifying new therapeutic targets for autoimmune diseases.
Critical to proper development and orchestration of the cells that comprise the immune system are many intercellular signaling molecules, collectively known as cytokines, which act through multimeric receptors. The Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, led by Dr. Warren J. Leonard, focuses on the biology, signaling, and molecular regulation of a key family of these cytokines, the interleukins, with studies ranging from basic molecular mechanisms to human disease. Dr. Leonard’s laboratory has discovered multiple specific forms of immunodeficiency.