Dr. Mariah Hassert is awarded an NIH F32 Postdoctoral Fellowship

Dr. Mariah HassertDr. Mariah Hassert, a Postdoctoral Scholar in the laboratory of Dr. John Harty, has been awarded an NIH F32 Fellowship entitled “Antiviral Lung Resident Memory T Cell Maintenance and Reinvigoration” from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Seasonal influenza A (IAV) and other airborne viral pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 represent a substantial burden on global public health. While sterilizing immunity can be attained through neutralizing antibodies, seasonal antigenic drift permits viral evasion of humoral immunity, which necessitates annual reformulation of the seasonal influenza vaccine. It has previously been shown, that cross-reactive CD8+ T cells can provide heterosubtypic non-sterilizing immunity to IAV. However, this cross-protection is relatively short-lived. There still exists a substantial knowledge gap regarding why lung T resident memory (Trm) cells are so short lived when they are clearly important for protection. Addressing this question remains a critical step in the rational design of universal influenza vaccines. Our long-term goal is to understand the biology that underlies the waning of lung Trm cells and to harness this information to aid in the development of broadly protective influenza vaccines. We will address this long-term goal with the following specific aims:

Aim 1: Determine the molecular T cell intrinsic factors that permit extended longevity and functionality of lung Trm following multiple antigen exposures.

Aim 2: Define the optimal priming and boosting vaccination strategies to maximize Trm generation, reinvigoration, and function.

This project is designed to simultaneously advance knowledge of influenza immunity and prepare the investigator for further independent research in influenza pathogenesis and immunity by incorporating diverse approaches in immunology and rodent models of influenza virus infection.

Monday, November 21, 2022