Immunology has changed biological research with an improved understanding of how to manage, treat and prevent diseases. At the Laboratory for Infectious Disease Research (LIDR), we foster research for the advancement of vaccines and therapeutics to combat diseases caused by some of the world’s most deadly pathogens. A mainstay in LIDR’s portfolio is the immunology facility offering cytometry and imaging of fixed or live BSL-1, BSL-2, and BSL-3 samples.
Jeffrey Whyte, PhD, LIDR Immunology research specialist, and Paul Anderson, PhD, LIDR associate director, assist investigators with identifying and fulfilling their projects’ immunological needs. To determine the host response to infection in researchers’ studies, Whyte and Anderson utilize a range of instrumentation including a MoFlo XDP, multiple epifluorescence microscopes, and a new Lionheart FX ― an automated microscopy system with imaging capabilities for fluorescence, brightfield, color brightfield, and phase contrast, as well as an environmental control chamber that allows long-term live-cell imaging applications. The expertise and equipment provided by LIDR Immunology help investigators analyze the cellular response to infectious agents. These techniques yield novel insights into the molecular mechanisms of infection that lead to pathology and potential ways to prevent or treat infections.
Such data and facilities allow investigators to vie successfully for highly competitive federal funding. The LIDR BSL-3 facility supports university grant applications, like the current Centers of Excellence for Translation Research program submission, for proposed research on Tier 1 and Non-Tier 1 select agents, arboviruses, and other diseases of public concern. Within the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), Alexander Franz, PhD, Veterinary Pathobiology assistant professor, received a National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) award to conduct studies at the LIDR on how arboviruses exit the mosquito midgut to infect hosts. Likewise, Guoquan Zhang, DVM, PhD, Veterinary Pathobiology associate professor, recently received NIAID funding to conduct research into prophylactics and therapeutic strategies against Coxiella burnetti (Q fever) at the LIDR. Other CVM investigators, including Jerod Skyberg, PhD, and Deborah Anderson, PhD, have recent NIAID grants that specifically utilize LIDR’s immunology services.
“The LIDR Immunology core has some resources that are unique to BSL3” said Skyberg, Veterinary Pathobiology assistant professor, “[they] have been pivotal for our research.” Skyberg utilizes LIDR’s immunology services to sort live cells from infected animals under BSL3 conditions to identify cell types that contain live Brucella during chronic infection. In the course of this research, Skyberg’s team identified a non-canonical cellular reservoir of chronic Brucella infection. He plans to continue use of LIDR Immunology to investigate the reservoir’s role in the development of arthritis in his recently funded study.
Deborah Anderson, Veterinary Pathobiology associate professor, works with LIDR Immunology to understand the interactions of Yersinia pestis and host immune cells. She specifically seeks to identify how host immune cells contribute to the development of pneumonic plague, as well as the bacterial virulence factors required for gaining access to, and growing in, the airway. Using fluorescent markers, flow cytometry, and image analysis offered by LIDR Immunology, Anderson is able to characterize the cellular immune response in lungs after exposure to Y. pestis.
Investigators have access to additional services at the LIDR to support their research. In Deborah Anderson’s newly funded project, she plans to use LIDR Aerobiology to test whether the stimulation of heme breakdown in the lungs stimulates a more effective immune response that can prevent pneumonia.
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Krista Rodgers, email@example.com, 573-882-8860