Pathobiology & Immunology

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that infectious diseases are responsible for nearly 20% of all deaths worldwide and that this number is likely to be even larger if certain cancers, cardiovascular and respiratory/digestive deaths, which can also be attributed to infections, are included.  Importantly, six diseases account for 90% of all infectious disease deaths worldwide and include:  acute respiratory infections (including pneumonia and influenza), AIDS and AIDS-associated disease, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis, malaria and measles.  In addition, the WHO estimates that at least 30 new diseases have emerged in the last 20 years and now together threaten the health of hundreds of millions of people, and for many of these diseases, there is no treatment, cure or vaccine.

To address key global infectious and chronic diseases, the mission of the Division of Pathobiology and Immunology is to conduct basic and applied preclinical research on infectious and chronic diseases that afflict mankind and lead to millions of deaths worldwide.  The Division's research focuses on understanding host-pathogen interactions and how these interactions can shift from a controlled and balanced equilibrium to an uncontrolled state that leads to morbidity and mortality, with an emphasis on designing better interventions and vaccines.  Research projects include studies that focus on: (a) basic immunology; (b) model development for infectious microorganisms and chronic diseases that are relevant to humans; (c) novel vaccine development and evaluation; (d) state-of-the-art in vivo and ex vivo imaging; and (e) molecular techniques to identify pathogenic determinants associated with disease.  All of this research involves the use of critical animal models of human infectious diseases, which are vital for understanding disease pathogenesis and prevention, and therapeutic intervention efficacy; however, there is an absolute requirement for animal models that parallel and share developmental, physiological and evolutionary relationships with humans, and are susceptible to the same or closely related infectious agents with similar, if not identical, disease sequelae.  As such, nonhuman primates (NHPs) represent ideal and powerful experimental models to study infectious and chronic diseases afflicting mankind.

Addressing these challenging infectious and chronic diseases is the goal for the scientists within the Division of Pathobiology and Immunology, which is home to a team of outstanding virologists, immunologists and pathologists, many of whom are also scientists within the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute (VGTI), who are imbued with a 'team science' ethic and a commitment to NHP models of human diseases.  The fundamental theme of the Division of Pathobiology and Immunology is that progress in these areas of investigation requires high level expertise and experience in virology, immunology and pathology, a combination that is rarely found in a single investigator, but that is collectively found through a close-knit collaborative environment in which scientists encompassing these disciplines interact on a daily basis.

The Division is currently composed of 9 faculty members including 7 Professors and 2 Associate Professors, with 9 early to mid-career VGTI faculty that are affiliated with the Division and work closely with the Division of Pathobiology and Immunology faculty.

See a list of scientists in the Division of Pathobiology & Immunology