Graduate Studies Faculty
David C. Parker, Ph.D.
Programs:Molecular Microbiology & Immunology
Program in Molecular & Cellular Biosciences
Research Interests:cellular immunology, immunological tolerance, lymphocyte activation and effector functions » Click here for more about Dr. Parker's research » PubMed Listing
Preceptor RotationsAcademic Term Available Winter 2014 No
Faculty MentorshipDr. Parker has not indicated availability as a mentor at this time.
My laboratory includes graduate student Jen Gardell, Research Assistant Professor Susan Murray, and research assistant Minhaz Sarker. We are interested in the cell-surface molecules and intracellular signaling pathways which determine whether an encounter between helper T cells and B cells or other antigen presenting cells results in immunity or tolerance. In a simplified model of peripheral tolerance to self, the Parker lab found that a signal through OX40 (CD134) blocks functional anergy in transferred T cells responding to transgenic or allogeneic antigens, drives the T cells to differentiate into cytokine-secreting effector cells, and results in fatal acute graft versus host disease in unirradiated recipient animals. Current work is focused on the role of NIK and the non-canonical pathway of NFκB activation in this signal through OX40 and other TNF receptor family members. In a second project, the lab is exploring the "immunological synapse", the structure that forms in the contact zone between a T cell and an antigen presenting cell. We are examining the role of the synapse in the specific delivery of the membrane-bound TNF family member, CD40L (CD154), that is necessary for T cell activation of B cells in the antibody response. We are also exploring differences among T cell subsets in the structure of the synapse and the functional consequences of those differences.