Research

Immunology sits at an exciting crossroad for many disciplines. Cutting edge technologies, including genomics, mouse genetics and molecular biology provide unprecedented opportunities to advance our understanding of fundamental immunology in disease pathogenesis and therapy. The faculty at UC Davis is involved in cutting-edge research into many areas of immune regulation in health and disease.

A particular emphasis of our program is host-pathogen interaction, mucosal immunology and immune signaling. Our association with the School of Veterinary Medicine, The California Regional Primate Research Center and The Mouse Biology Program at UC Davis brings a unique comparative and animal modeling aspect to our program with facilities and opportunities that are unmatched by other campuses. A NIH T32 training grant for Animal Modeling of Infectious Diseases is available on a competitive basis for students in our program.

Clinical translational research is another area of strengths on this Campus. One of only a handful of NIH-supported Clinical Translational Science Centers is administered by the School of Medicine at UC Davis. Training opportunities and fellowship support is available for students in the immunology program that aim to emphasize clinical translational research. Particular areas of emphasis in clinically oriented research of faculty in this program are autoimmune diseases and cancer immunology.

Nutritional immunology is an area of specialization possible on this campus due to our faculty associated with the Western Human Nutrition Research Center, one of six USDA-funded human nutrition centers in the country.

Below is a list of the broad areas into which research of individual faculty of the Graduate Group in Immunology can be categorized and the names of faculty associated with these areas.

Autoimmune diseases

Research being performed by Graduate Group in Immunology faculty is aimed at determining the molecular basis for several autoimmune diseases, including autism, arthritis, chronic liver disease, diabetes, kidney disease and systemic lupus erythematosus.

  • Iannis Adamopoulos, D.Phil
  • Paul Ashwood, Ph.D.
  • Christopher L. Bowlus, M.D
  • Tzipora Goldkorn, Ph.D.
  • Pamela Lein, Ph.D.
  • Patrick S. C. Leung, Ph.D.
  • Emanual Maverakis, M.D.
  • William Murphy, Ph.D.
  • John Peters, M.D.
  • Judy Van de Water, Ph.D.

Cancer immunology

Faculty research related to cancer ranges from basic mechanisms of carcinogenesis to targeting novel drugs to tumors using combinatorial chemistry and immunotherapy. Participating faculty with research projects related to cancer include:

  • Tzipora Goldkorn, Ph.D.
  • Kit S. Lam, M.D., Ph.D.
  • William Murphy, Ph.D.
  • Robert T. O'Donnell, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Jose V. Torres, Ph.D.
  • Joseph Toscano, M.D.
  • Andrew T. Vaughan, Ph.D.
  • Robert H. Weiss, M.D.
  • John Peters, Ph.D.

Comparative immunology

Exploiting the presence of a School of Veterinary Medicine and one of only a handful of National Research Primate Centers, ongoing research in faculty laboratories includes comparative studies of immune responses, including allergy and infection, in humans and non-human primates, avian, bovine, equine, feline, marine mammals, and zoo animal species.

  • Laurel J. Gershwin, D.V.M., Ph.D.
  • Kirk C. Klasing, Ph.D.
  • Lisa Miller, Ph.D.
  • Kent Pinkerton, Ph.D.
  • Ellen E. Sparger, D.V.M., Ph.D.
  • Jeffrey L. Stott, Ph.D.

Host-pathogen interactions

A broad array of research projects explore how viral, bacterial and protozoan pathogens, interact with their hosts to cause diseases including AIDS, malaria, influenza, Lyme disease, salmonellosis and vascular disease. The nature of projects ranges from the molecular interactions underlying disease processes and host immune response regulation, to development of vaccines and diagnostics.

  • Stephen Barthold, D.V.M., Ph.D.
  • Nicole Baumgarth, D.V.M., Ph.D
  • Andreas J. Baumler, Ph.D.
  • Charles L. Bevins, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Kiho Cho, Ph.D.
  • Satya Dandekar, Ph.D.
  • Laurel J. Gershwin, D.V.M., Ph.D.
  • James Hildreth, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Shirley Luckhart, Ph.D.
  • Stephen McSorley, Ph.D.
  • Lisa A. Miller, Ph.D.
  • Grace Rosenquist, Ph.D.
  • Barbara L. Shacklett, Ph.D.
  • Ellen E. Sparger, D.V.M., Ph.D.
  • Scott I. Simon, Ph.D.
  • Jay Solnick, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Jeffrey L. Stott, Ph.D.
  • Jose V. Torres, Ph.D.
  • Renee M. Tsolis, Ph.D.
  • Huaijun Zhou, Ph.D.

Immune signaling

Research in this area includes studies on signaling pathways within immune cells and how they are perturbed during disease. A second area of investigation is cell-to-cell communication within the immune system. Approaches to study of these areas range from studies of molecular interactions in and between individual cells, immune regulation of inflammation to computational modeling of immune responses.

  • Iannis Adamopoulos, D.Phil
  • Nicole Baumgarth, D.V.M., Ph.D
  • Leigh Griffiths, Ph.D.
  • Pamela Lein, Ph.D.
  • William Murphy, Ph.D.
  • Kent E. Pinkerton, Ph.D.
  • David Pleasure, M.D.
  • Grace L. Rosenquist, Ph.D.
  • Scott I. Simon, Ph.D.
  • Athena Soulika, Ph.D.
  • Yoshikazu Takada, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Joseph M. Tuscano, M.D.
  • Robert H. Weiss, M.D.
  • Reen Wu, Ph.D.
  • Heike Wulff, Ph.D.

Mucosal immunology

Faculty research projects cover a diverse range of topics, including defense mechanisms to maintain mucosal barrier function, reactions of the respiratory mucosa to allergens and pollutants, and how viral and bacterial pathogens subvert the defenses of the intestinal mucosa to cause disease.

  • Nicole Baumgarth, D.V.M., Ph.D.
  • Andreas J. Baumler, Ph.D.
  • Charles L. Bevins, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Satya Dandekar, Ph.D.
  • Laurel Gershwin, D.V.M., Ph.D.
  • Richart Harper, M.D.
  • James Hildreth, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Stephen McSorley, Ph.D.
  • Lisa A. Miller, Ph.D.
  • Barbara L. Shacklett, Ph.D.
  • Jay Solnick, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Renee M. Tsolis, Ph.D.
  • Reen Wu, Ph.D.
  • Huaijun Zhou, Ph.D.

Neuroimmunology

Faculty research in this area combine study of neurological disorders, the nervous system, and immunology. Faculty projects include research on multiple sclerosis, autism, development of the nervous system, and mechanisms of synapse formation in the brain.

  • Paul Ashwood, Ph.D.
  • Pamela Lein, Ph.D.
  • Kimberley A. McAllister, Ph.D.
  • David Pleasure, M.D.
  • Athena Soulika, Ph.D.
  • Judy Van de Water, Ph.D.

Nutritional immunology

Faculty research in this area includes the effects of nutrition on the immune response, how ongoing immune responses affect the host's nutritional requirements, the effects of micronutrients such as Vitamins A and D and omega fatty acids on immunity, and characterization of food allergens causing anaphylaxis.

  • Daniel Hwang, Ph.D.
  • Kirk C. Klasing, Ph.D.
  • Patrick S. C. Leung, Ph.D.
  • Charles B. Stephensen, Ph.D.
  • Suzanne S. Teuber, M.D.
  • Susan J. Zunino, Ph.D.