Anne O'Garra is the Head of Division of Immunoregulation at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Mill Hill, London. Dr. O'Garra set up the Division of Immunoregulation in 2001, with the aim to bridge the gap between basic immunology and infectious disease by bringing together knowledge obtained from the study of the immune response to infectious microorganisms in experimental models and clinical disease. The research of the Division is based upon close collaboration with the existing Divisions of Molecular Immunology, Immune Cell Biology, and Parasitology, Virology and Mycobacterial Research at NIMR. Over the next few years the Division will be recruiting additional independent investigators to expand the research. Dr. O'Garra continues the study of the role of cytokines and immune modulators in immune responses, now with a strong emphasis on the immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTb), in both experimental mouse models and human disease.
Dr. O'Garra obtained her Ph.D. at the NIMR in microbiology in 1983. She then changed fields and division and stayed on at the Institute as a Postdoctoral Fellow in immunology, where she conducted her research on the cytokine interleukin-5 (IL-5) and showed that, as well as inducing differentiation of eosinophils, this factor enhanced B lymphocyte function. In 1987 she left England for Palo Alto, California, to work for the DNAX Research Institute (now Schering Plough Biopharma), where by 2000 she had become a principal staff scientist in the Department of Immunobiology.
At DNAX Dr. O'Garra worked for several years to define the function of the cytokines IL-10 and IL-12. She first elucidated that interleukin 10 (IL-10) has broad immunosuppressive functions, inhibiting antigen presentation by dendritic cells and macrophages and their production of inflammatory cytokines. She elucidated fundamental mechanisms regulating the activation of CD4+ T-helper (Th) cell subsets with distinct effector functions, discovering that: IL-12 induced T-helper 1 (Th1) cells secreting IFN, essential for eradication of intracellular pathogens; the key antigen presenting cell, the dendritic cell, produced IL-12, under tight control of IL-10. Her work is now aiming to translate findings in basic immunregulation to human disease to open up new avenues for improved adjuvants and vaccines for prevention or therapeutic intervention in infectious diseases.
Research in the Division of Immunoregulation is concerned with the precise mechanisms of pathogenesis and immune control of infectious disease. Emphasis is given to those bacterial and viral infections, which represent a major threat to human health worldwide and against which vaccines are unavailable or inefficient. We aim to understand how the immune response to infection is regulated at the molecular and cellular level, to identify factors that sway the complex interaction between the infectious microorganisms and the immune system and allow infections to overcome our immune defences, and to use this knowledge to induce or enhance protective immunity against infection. The goal of our research, which includes studies not only on the immunopathogenesis in tuberculosis, but also in influenza, retroviral infection, and listeria, is to lay the basis for improved diagnostic methods and vaccination and therapeutic strategies for the prevention or treatment of infectious diseases.
Damien Chaussabel, Ph.D., is an Assistant Investigator at the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research (BIIR) in Dallas, where he also leads the Genomic Microarray Core facility. Dr. Chaussabel was recruited to BIIR in 2004 to establish genomics and microarray-based projects. He earned his Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Brussels in 1999. During this time, he studied Chagas Disease, which infects an estimated 16 to 18 million people worldwide, mostly in Central and South America. Dr. Chaussabel helped to develop an experimental model of Chagas Disease.
From 2000-2004, Dr. Chaussabel was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland. He joined the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research in 2004 as an Assistant Investigator.
Dr. Chaussabel is using microarray technology to identify disease markers in patients with cancer and autoimmune and infectious diseases, as well as in transplant recipients. He is also developing novel microarray data mining strategies to better utilize the large volume of data that is being collected in his research and that of his collaborators. The immune system responds differently to many types of challenges. Microarrays can measure responses to different challenges, even those that are closely-related. For example, Dr. Chaussabel's group is able to distinguish between viral-based respiratory infections caused by influenza and respiratory syncytial virus. They also see unique immune responses to different types of bacterial infections, such as E. coli and Staphylococcus.