Kai Rogers

Kai RogersAddress: 3-701E BSB
Phone: (319) 335-7613
Email: kai-rogers@uiowa.edu

Mentor: Wendy J. Maury, PhD

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington

Year Entered Into Program: 2016

Research Description
The Effect of Macrophage Polarization on Ebola Virus Entry

Our lab is broadly interested in Ebola virus (EBOV), a negative sense RNA virus and member of the Filoviridae family. As highlighted by the recent outbreak in West Africa, EBOV is an important global pathogen responsible for episodic outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever, causing tremendous morbidity and mortality. Importantly, although there are numerous vaccines and antivirals in various stages of development, there is currently no treatment or prevention for this deadly pathogen.

It is well appreciated that cells of the innate immune system, such as macrophages and dendritic cells, are important target populations in the initial stages and dissemination of EBOV infection. Our lab has previously shown that treatment of macrophages with interferon gamma, and thus polarizing to an M1 phenotype, reduces permissivity of these cells to Ebola virus infection in vitro and when administered systemically protects mice from lethal Ebola challenge. We seek now to build on these observations by studying the effect of additional polarizing stimuli in the context of infection. Preliminary data suggests that infection is enhanced in “alternatively-activated” macrophages and that regulation of key entry factors is altered. Thus the focus of my doctoral work is to characterize the effect of macrophage polarization on Ebola virus entry.