The Lewinsohn laboratory studies human T cell immunity to tuberculosis (TB) with an emphasis on understanding the role of the developing immune system on the susceptibility of young children to TB disease and on the role of T cells, including conventional CD8+ T cells and MR1-restricted T cells (MR1T cells) in host defense to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection, the causative agent of TB. Despite widespread deployment of BCG vaccine worldwide, TB remains one of the most important causes of infectious morbidity and mortality. Development of an improved TB vaccine will require better understanding of effective T cell immunity. The laboratory studies: 1) the development of functional Mtb-reactive MR1T cells in human infants; 2) the capacity of MR1T cells to develop into memory T cells; 3) MR1T cell T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire and phenotype in response to BCG vaccination; and 4) Identification of the Mtb antigens recognized by Mtb-specific CD8+ T cells within the context of infection and disease.
Dr. Lewinsohn is part of the Oregon Tuberculosis Research Lab (OTBRL) at OHSU. OTBRL has brought together investigators in Oregon who share a common purpose of understanding the relationship between Mycobacterium Tuberculosis (Mtb) and human immune system that will lead to improved diagnostics, treatments and vaccines.
Gwendolyn Swarbrick, Manager of the Lewinsohn Laboratories
She received her B.S. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from the University of California, San Diego in 1999. Mrs. Swarbrick has worked in David and Deborah Lewinsohn's laboratories since July, 2001 and has extensive experience in the isolation and characterization of CD8+ T cell clones, and utilizing ELISPOT, ELISA, and FACS analysis to characterize T cell clones and T cells in peripheral blood. Since July 2003, she has acted as laboratory manager for both David Lewinsohn and Deborah Lewinsohn, with responsibility for training and oversight of laboratory personnel and for administrative grants management. She was the project manager for two NIH T cell epitope discovery contracts, (HHSN272200900053C and HHSN266200400081C), the administrative manager of the Mucosal Immunity Study Team Infrastructure and Opportunities Fund (MIST IOF) funded by an NIH consortium, U01AI095776 and the project manager for the "Targeting MAIT cells for TB vaccines" grant funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She currently manages several projects in the lab, including the single cell sequencing/T cell cloning projects on multiple grants. She is also the Grants Coordinator for the Center for Global Child Health Research, part of the School of Medicine and directed by David Lewinsohn. The goal of this Center is to improve outcomes in child health worldwide through advancing collaborative research in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of bacterial infection.
Meghan Cansler, Senior Research Associate
Meghan received her B.S. in Biology from Washington State University in 2004 and began working as a Research Assistant with the Lewinsohn Lab in November of that same year. Her past projects have included two NIH T cell epitope discovery projects which focused on CD8 classically restricted T cells as well as a grant funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that looked at MR1 T cell restricted ligands as possible TB vaccine targets. Her current work in the lab focuses on T cell cloning and characterization for multiple grants to define and phenotype MR1 restricted T cells as well as the overall CD3+ T cell response to TB.
Tania Ahmed, Research Assistant 2
Tania graduated from Wellesley College with a B.A. in Biological Sciences and a minor in Environmental Studies in 2016. They are research assistant II in the Lewinsohn Lab and their research interest is in characterizing and phenotyping human MAIT cells in the blood and lung.
Dylan Kain, Graduate Research Student - Program in Biomedical Sciences
Dylan Kain graduated from Queen’s University in 2011, before starting medical school at the University of Toronto, which he completed in 2015. He then undertook his general internal medicine residency, which he completed in 2019, and his infectious disease fellowship, finishing in 2020. He also received his diploma of tropical medicine and hygiene in 2020 from the Gorgas Course in Peru. Following this he completed a yearlong infection control fellowship, helping with the pandemic response, along with a tropical medicine fellowship in Toronto. He joined the Lewinsohn lab in 2021, starting a Ph.D. studying the memory potential of MAIT cells, and the ligands they recognize, with the aim to better inform future tuberculosis vaccine development.