Areas of interest
The functions of the immune system depend on complex interactions inside the organism, leading to responses to infections that eliminate pathogens and resolve inflammation.
Dysregulation of inflammatory immune responses can lead to immune pathology and even autoimmunity. We are interested in the critical steps leading to either successful resolution of immune responses or their dysregulation.
Inflammatory diseases are influenced by environmental factors which are currently not well defined. We are focusing on a transcription factor, the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) which transmits environmental signals. AHR has originally been discovered as a receptor for environmental pollutants such as dioxin, but its evolutionary conservation suggests it has important physiological functions beyond this.
We initially discovered AHR expression in a subset of CD4 T cells, Th17 cells, where it drives the expression of IL-22, but further research has established that AHR expression in other cell types such as epithelial cells in barrier organs such as skin, lung and intestine plays important beneficial roles in the maintenance of homeostasis.