Donna L. Farber, PhD
Immune memory and protective immunity Influenza immune responses Transplantation immunology Autoimmunity
Research in our laboratory is focused on immunological memory and specifically on memory T cells as essential mediators of protective immunity. While it was previously thought that memory T cells mediate their protective responses through rapid migration and surveillance through tissues, it is now become clear that localization and establishment of non-circulating memory T cells resident in tissue sites is integral to immune protection. We are incorporating fundamental studies on mouse models with novel translational approaches on human samples to investigate tissue immune responses. We have identified a new subset of non-circulating tissue-resident memory T cells (TRM) in the lung that mediate optimal protective immunity in a mouse model of influenza infection. Current studies into mechanisms for how memory T cells become targeted to and maintained in the lung use total transcriptome profiling and bioinformatics approaches. We have identified novel roles for specific integrins and inflammatory mediators in this process, and are studying the signaling pathways involved in resident memory T cell generation and functional recall. For our translational studies, we have established a unique collaboration and research protocol with the organ procurement organization for the New York Metropolitan area (LiveOnNY ; http://www.donatelifeny.org/) and transplant surgeons at New York Presbyterian (NYP) where we obtain multiple lymphoid and mucosal tissues from research-consented human organ donors. These studies are part of an NIH-funded Program on “Tissue compartmentalization of human lymphocytes”, involving immunologists, molecular biologists and computational biologists in five institutions to study human adaptive and innate lymphocyte compartmentalization and maintenance in human tissues throughout the human lifespan. Additionally, because memory T cells are critically important to generate in vaccines, we have ongoing studies on infant immunity, to investigate how protective responses can be established in babies who are most susceptible to infection and immune pathologies. These infant studies involve both mouse models and also sampling of site-specific responses in human infants intubated due to virus infection in collaboration with clinicians in the Pediatric Critical care Division at Morgan Stanley/NYP.