Human immunology, Infectious diseases, Non-coding RNAs, Genomics
Summary of Research:
We are a lab of human immunology, interested in understanding the overall immune response to infections. Our main focus is to understand the development of immune response by studying the regulation of global gene expression patterns uniquely associated with a pathogen, immune cell-type and/ disease stage using multi-omics and immunological tools. Two major research activities in the lab are:
1. T cell memory development to infectious diseases
The acquisition of immunological memory to infections is a hallmark of protective immunity and hence forms the basis for vaccinations. During this evolutionarily conserved process of T cell immunological memory development, the naive T cells that have not previously encountered antigen, differentiate during the primary infection into memory T cells that have specialized functions in immune defence to a later infection with the same pathogen. Each pathogen elicits a specialized memory subset and once formed this specialized T cell memory can provide life-long immunity to the same pathogen. My lab is mainly interested in understanding how the T cell memory is formed during the primary infection and maintained over the years to defend the subsequent secondary infection from the same pathogen. For examples, currently our lab is focused on understanding the protective role of CD4+ cytotoxic memory T cells in viral infections (dengue virus, cytomegalovirus, EBV, Influenza) and various CD4+ T helper memory subsets in bacterial infection (Mycobacterium tuberculosis). Broadly, our research goal is to understand the biology of such specialized memory subsets and utilize this knowledge in designing and developing strategies to boost durable immune responses following therapeutics and vaccination against these pathogens.
2. Immune response to sepsis in neonates
The host immune response to neonatal sepsis is very poorly understood. The little we know about immune response in neonatal sepsis comes from whole blood analysis majorly due to limited availability of sample volume. However, the blood transcriptome can be heavily confounded by higher frequency of one or two dominant immune cell types. Analysing the dynamic change in immune cell proportions and the associated immune cell-type specific gene expression patterns will provide better understanding of the immune response to neonatal sepsis. In this specific project we are trying to understand the dynamic changes in immune response by examining the dynamic changes in proportion of immune cell subsets and their associated global gene expression pattern.
Raunak Kar (PhD Student 2019 batch), Kirti Sharma (PhD student 2020 batch), Sarojini Minj (Technical Officer), Kiran Pal Singh (Technician)
The lab is funded by DBT-WT India Alliance, DBT and NII.