Immune regulatory pathways in infection, inflammation and sepsisProf. Meera Nair, Division of Biomedical Sciences, UCR
My lab investigates the immune responses to infection and inflammation using mouse models of parasitic worm infection and clinical samples from sepsis patients. Our ultimate goal is to identify protective or pathogenic immune pathways that we can target for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. In our mouse infection models we investigate macrophages as first responders to infection, where we focus on their gene expression profiles, their interaction with the parasitic worm, and their function in tissue repair. To investigate the immune responses to sepsis, an often fatal inflammatory disease with no cure, we have partnered with clinicians and set up a study collecting clinical samples over time from patients with severe sepsis, and analyzing molecular, immune and clinical data.
In both projects, data science-related challenges we face include the profound heterogeneity in immune cell populations and their interaction with the pathogen, which make it difficult to predict health outcomes or identify molecules or pathways for effective diagnostics or therapies. Data we collect and analyze include 1/ tracking macrophage interaction with live worms and in a 3D matrix; 2/ transcriptomic analysis of macrophage subsets and linking pathways back to pathologic outcomes; 3/ single cell-seq analysis of sepsis immune subsets, clinical parameters and association with fatal or survival outcomes.