Haesun Park, Ph.D.

Dr. Park's research interest is focused on understanding molecular and cellular bases of Streptococcus pyogenespathogenesis, especially host-pathogen interactions required for establishment of infection. S. pyogenesis the most common cause of clinically significant bacterial pharyngitis, and it is also responsible for many serious diseases such as rheumatic fever, heart disease, toxic shock, and skin infections. Her research is in three areas: identification of virulence factors and their pathogenic mechanisms, characterization of immune responses during infection, and development of effective vaccines for protection against streptococci.

Another major focus of her work is to understand how innate immunity can enhance vaccine-induced immune responses. One of the mechanisms by which the innate immune cells sense the invasion of pathogens is through Toll-like receptors (TLRs), a family of proteins that recognize microorganisms through pathogen-associated molecular patterns. Stimulation of TLRs triggers a signaling cascade that culminates in a specific transcriptional response of genes that are involved in initiation of both innate and adaptive immunity tailored to the type of pathogen encountered. 

A study is in progress to test whether stimulation of different TLRs enhances immunogenicity of a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine protein and ultimately provides protection from infection by eliciting effective immune responses using an animal model. While a vaccine is the best approach to halt the HIV pandemic, HIV presents unique challenges to vaccine development. One is the lack of knowledge of the immune components required to protect the host from infection. Dr. Park's research goal is to unravel the specific components of host innate and adaptive immunity that provide protection against pathogenic simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection in rhesus macaques and to rationally guide improved formulations of HIV vaccines. A final area of interest is to understand the mechanism by which this virus subverts and exploits host immune system, which plays critical roles in its ability to cause disease or chronic infection, and in so doing identify potential targets for new preventives and therapeutics.


Haesun Park is a research assistant professor at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, OHSU, and project coordinator in the Pathobiology and Immunology Division for the ONPRC's Collaborative Research Unit. She received a B.S. in Microbiology from Seoul National University in South Korea, and a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Michigan in 1999. After postdoctoral work at the University of Minnesota Medical School, she worked as a Research Associate in the same institute until she joined the VGTI in 2007.


Park, H.S., and Cleary, P.P. Streptococcal M protein upregulates β-1 integrin expression on host cells and promotes bacterial colonization. Manuscript submitted to JEM.

Okoye A, Park H, Rohankhedkar M, Coyne-Johnson L, Lum R, Walker JM, Planer SL, Legasse AW, Sylwester AW, Piatak M Jr, Lifson JD, Sodora DL, Villinger F, Axthelm MK, Schmitz JE, Picker LJ. Profound CD4+/CCR5+ T cell expansion is induced by CD8+ lymphocyte depletion but does not account for accelerated SIV pathogenesis. J. Exp. Med. 206:1575-1588, 2009.

Park, H.S., and Cleary, P.P. Active and passive immunizations with the streptococcal surface protein C5a peptidase prevent infection of murine nasal-associated lymphoid tissue, a functional homologue of human tonsils. Infect. Immun. 73:7878-7886, 2005.

Zimmerlein, B., Park, H.S., Li, S., Podbielski, A., and Cleary, P.P. The M protein is dispensable for maturation of streptococcal cysteine protease SpeB. Infect. Immun. 73: 859¬864, 2005.

Park, H.S., Costalonga, M., Reinhardt, R.E., Dombek, P.E., Jenkins, M.K., and Cleary, P.P. Primary induction of CD4 T cell responses in nasal associated lymphoid tissue during Group A streptococcal infection. Eur. J. Immunol. 34: 2843-2853, 2004.

Cleary, P. P., Zhang, Y, and Park, H.S. Nasal associated lymphoid tissue & M cells, a window to persistent streptococcal infections. Indian J. Med. Res. 119 (Suppl.): 55-58, 2004.

Purushothaman, S.S., Park, H.S., and Cleary, P.P. C5a peptidase of Group A streptococcus promotes fibronectin independent invasion into epithelial cells. Indian J. Med. Res. 119 (Suppl.): 44-47, 2004.

Park, H.S., Francis, K. P., Yu, J., and Cleary, P. P. Membranous cells in nasal-associated lymphoid tissue: a portal of entry for the respiratory mucosal pathogen Group A Streptococcus. J. Immunol 171: 2532-2537, 2003.

Park, H.S., Wolfgang, M., and Koomey, M. Modification of Type IV pilus-associated epithelial cell adherence and multicellular behavior by the PilU protein of Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Infect. Immun. 70: 3891-3903, 2002.

Park, H.S., Wolfgang, M., van Putten, J., Dorward, D., Hayes, S. F., and Koomey, M. Structural alterations in a Type IV pilus subunit protein result in concurrent defects in multicellular behaviour and adherence to host tissue. Mol. Microbiol. 42: 293-307, 2001.

Wolfgang, M., Park, H.S., Hayes, S. F., van Putten, J., and Koomey, M. Suppression of an absolute defect in Type IV pilus biogenesis by loss of function mutations in pilT, a twitching motility gene in Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 95: 14973-14978, 1998.

Wolfgang, M., Lauer, P., Park, H.S., Brossay, L., Hebert, J., and Koomey, M. PilT mutations lead to simultaneous defects in competence for natural transformation and twitching motility in piliated Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Mol. Microbiol. 29: 321-330, 1998.

Vila, L.M., Haftel, H.M., Park, H.S., Lin, M.S., Romzek, N.C., Hanash, S.M., and Holoshitz, J. Expansion of mycobacterium-reactive γδ T cells by a subset of memory helper T cells. Infect. Immun. 63: 211-1217, 1995.

Park, H.S., Ham, Y.H., Chung, I.S., Jo, S.K., Hong, S.I., Park, E.K., and Yun, Y.S. Influence of Angelicae gigantis radix on the immune system: T-independent B cell proliferation. Korean J. Immunol. 12:113-118,1990.

Jo, S.K., Park, H.S., Hong, W.S., and Yun, Y.S. Heterogeneity of lymphokine-activated killer cell response. J. Korean Cancer Assoc. 22:14-23, 1990.

Jo, S.K., Park, H.S., Yun, T.K. Synergistic inhibition of the tumor growth in C57BL/6 mice transplanted with EL-4 cells by the combination of lymphokine-activated killer cells, interleukine-2 and poly I:C. Korean J. Immunol. 10:25-31, 1988.

Jo, S.K., Park, H.S., Yun, Y.S., and Yun, T.K. Effect of PSK on cell mediated immunity in benzo-α-pyrene-treated mice. Korean J. Immunol. 9:209-214,1987.

Yun, T.K., Jo, S.K., and Park, H.S. Natural killer cell activity of human peripheral blood lymphocytes. J. Korean Cancer Res. Assoc. 19:14-22, 1987.

Yun, Y.S., Jo, S.K., Park, H.S., Kim, Y.J., Oh, Y.R., and Yun, T.K. Effect of red ginseng on natural killer cell activity in mice with lung adenoma induced by urethan and benzo-α-pyrene. Cancer Detection and Prevention, Supplement 1:301-309, 1987.

Jo, S.K., Park, H.S., Yun, Y.S., Park, K.B., and Yun, T.K. Postoperative longitudinal follow-up of natural killer activity in patients with cervical cancer. J. Korean Cancer Res. Assoc. 16:263-271, 1987.

Jo, S.K., Park, H.S., Yun, Y.S., Oh, Y.R., Kim, S.H., and Yun, T.K. Sustained defect of natural killer activity after sublethal-irradiation. Korean J. Immunol. 8:161-165,1986.


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