Our Research Program
Immunology is all about discriminating 'self' (host) from 'non-self' (microbes and foreign substances). Innate immunity, unlike adaptive immunity mediated by antigen-specific T and B lymphocytes, discriminates "non-self" through innate immune receptors, termed “pattern recognition receptors” (PRRs). Our overall goal of research is to investigate the role and signaling mechanisms of PRRs in innate immune responses. Among various innate immune cells, macrophages are key sentinel cells residing in all tissues. They sense, trigger and orchestrate immune responses. Many pathogenic bacteria and viruses sabotage macrophage immune responses to gain access and disseminate within the host by secreting various virulence factors. In contrast, commensal or probiotic microbes live within the host in harmony. To date, immunological and signaling interactions between commensals and macrophages are not well understood. Furthermore, defective or aberrant activation of macrophages have shown to be involved in inflammatory/autoimmune diseases, ischemia injury and cancer. Therefore, understanding mechanisms of macrophages responding to injury and tumors is fundamental for developing novel therapeutic approaches. Our research program focuses on the immunological and signaling mechanisms of macrophages in responding to various microbes, tissue injury and cancers.