The major focus of the Department of Pulmonary Immunology at UT Health Science Center is to study immune responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) and influenza virus infections. These studies are aimed at delineating the basic mechanisms by which these pathogens cause diseases, as well as applying scientific advances to improve patient diagnosis and treatment. The faculty publishes around 10 articles annually in scientific journals.
- Role of natural killer (NK) cells and regulatory T-cells (Tregs) in the immune response to M. tuberculosis infection.
- Identify immunologic markers of persons at highest risk of progression of latent tuberculosis infection to tuberculosis. We are following a large cohort of patients with latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) in collaboration with Dr. Vijaya Valluri (LEPRA society – Blue Peter Public Health & Research Centre in Hyderabad, India), we are determining if development of TB is preceded by specific changes in cellular markers of monocytes, NK cells and Tregs.
- Study protective immune responses to M. tuberculosis during HIV infection and diabetes.
- Understand the mechanisms of tuberculosis development by investigating the interaction between pathogen, M. tuberculosis, and host immune cells to discover novel drug targets and design effective tuberculosis vaccine. To accomplish these, they are currently studying the T cell immune responses against tuberculosis infection and the effect of secreted proteins of M. tuberculosis on host immune responses. They use human peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from the blood samples of healthy donors and tuberculosis patients stimulated with antigens of M. tuberculosis or anti-CD3 plus anti-CD28 mAb as model to study the effect of secreted proteins of M. tuberculosis on T cells and antigen presenting cells and their mechanisms. They also apply low dose M. tuberculosis aerosol infected mouse as our model system in our research. Currently, we are studying the effect of ESAT-6, a small secreted protein of M. tuberculosis, on human immune cell functions applying state of the art molecular biology, cellular biology and immunology techniques.
- Novel mechanisms of innate immunity to protect host against influenza virus and secondary bacterial pneumonia.
- Effects of cigarette smoke exposure on lung immunity.
A clinical responsibility of the senior staff of the Department of Pulmonary Immunology is to support a toll-free infectious disease consulting service provided, without cost, to all Texas physicians and healthcare agencies throughout the state.
Free infectious disease consultations are available statewide to all health care providers, both public and private, by calling 1-800-428-7432, Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Fax: (903) 877-7989 or (903) 877-5516
Local physicians should call (903) 877-7907 or (903) 877-5908.
Administrative Services Manager