Current Research and Scholarly Interests
I am a Neonatal Intensive Care physician scientist interested in the neonatal immune system, particularly the immune system of premature infants, and how it impacts the short and longterm health of this vulnerable population.
Dysregulated inflammation is at the heart of so many of the diseases suffered by our patients in the NICU. Diseases such as sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis often afflict our babies in the first few weeks of life, while other inflammatory diseases, such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia and retinopathy of prematurity, affect patients for life. It is also likely that a dysregulated immune system is a major factor in the pathogenesis of the long-term neurodevelopmental impairment suffered by patients who were born premature.
In my current work, I use mass cytometry (CyTOF) to study the immune system and its behavior of premature infants. By using CyTOF, in combination with machine learning and other advanced statistical techniques, I am able to describe the neonatal immune system in great detail. I am particularly interested in how the profile of the neonatal immune system changes with gestational age, how it evolves over the course of the infant's first days and weeks of life, and how it relates to establishment of the gut microbiome.
Another area of focus is on immunology of human pregnancy. Pregnancy requires unique and remarkable immune adaptations in order to allow the mother to tolerate her semi-allogeneic fetus up until the time of delivery. Derangements in these immune adaptations are implicated in prematurity as well as diseases of pregnancy such as preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction, which are major indications for preterm delivery.