Our lab is interested in the complex interactions between the trillions of diverse microbes and the host in the mammalian gastrointestinal tract. The host immune system has developed mechanisms to tolerate and maintain a symbiotic relationship with its community of microbes. In turn, the commensal microbiota plays a fundamental role in the education, induction, and maintenance of the host immune system.
Our primary research goal is to understand mechanisms that direct immune tolerance in the gut. We are particularly interested in identifying the common language by which symbiotic bacteria induce commensal-driven immune responses, and exploring the requirements in maintenance of commensal-specific immune response and mucosal tolerance. By characterizing the common biochemical and molecular pathways that mediate recognition of beneficial microbes in the mammalian host, we will pioneer research into how the immune system tolerates a foreign and complex microbial community, and whether this tolerogenic balance is disrupted during intestinal pathologies such as inflammatory bowel disease. These discoveries will subsequently inform us of basic processes that can be targeted for the development of novel, personalized therapeutic approaches to inflammatory diseases.