Our lab seeks to understand central nervous system (CNS) immunity, with a specific focus on antimicrobial protection at the olfactory barrier. Barrier immunity, particularly at mucosal surfaces, has received a great deal of interest within the immunological community. Unlike classical barrier surfaces in the gut, lower respiratory tract, and skin, the olfactory neuroepithelial barrier is unique in its dedication to neuronal function. Olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) must contact the external environment to perform their chemosensory functions, but this provides a direct link between the outside world and the CNS. For these reasons, our lab seeks to define the mechanisms by which immunological surveillance and the immune response within the olfactory epithelium is tailored to support both barrier and neurosensory functions while warding off neurotropic pathogens.
We are also strong believers that visualizing cellular behavior in vivo can guide mechanistic discovery. To this end, we employ multiphoton intravital imaging to analyze in vivo CNS immune responses and determine how these responses are tailored to the CNS environment. Within the CNS, intravital imaging has allowed us to observe dynamic in vivo antigen engagement by T cell subsets during viral infection as well as innate immune responses to Naegleria fowleri infection.
Education and Training
- Harvard University , Ph.D. 2011