Dr. Mark Shlomchik is a UPMC Endowed Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also a Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of BlueSphere Bio, a company working to create individualized T cell therapies for the treatment of cancer. Dr. Shlomchik’s lab focuses on systemic autoimmune diseases, long-lived B cell immunity, and immunopathogenesis. He talks about the role of toll-like receptors in lupus, how his autoimmune disease research led to potential cancer therapies, and starting a biotech company with his brother.
Dr. Hanover Matz is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Maryland, who recently completed his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Helen Dooley. He discusses why sharks may have evolved adaptive immune systems, the role of T cells, mucosal immunity, and antibodies, and working with sharks in the lab.
Dr. Jennifer Gommerman is a Professor of Immunology at the University of Toronto. Her team has uncovered a novel gut-brain axis that regulates neuroinflammation and is examining the role of B lymphocytes in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients and in animal models of MS. More recently, she has been studying the antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 in saliva samples from patients with COVID-19. She talks about the role of gut-derived plasma cells in multiple sclerosis, and how salivary immunoglobulin A can protect against breakthrough COVID-19 infections.
Dr. Tri Phan is a Senior Research Fellow at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and a Conjoint Professor at the University of New South Wales. He runs the Intravital Microscopy Lab, which aims to understand the checks and balances that control B cell responses. His team uses two-photon microscopy to image cells in live animals, including time-lapses of over 24 hours. He talks about the physics behind this type of microscopy and how it can image deep within tissues without destroying them. We also discuss his lab’s recent Cell paper on osteomorphs, a newly discovered cell type involved in osteoclast recycling in bone, and their work on memory B cells in lymph nodes.
Dr. Frances Lund is the Charles H. McCauley Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her lab showed that B cells not only make antibodies, but also produce cytokines that modulate the microenvironment. She currently studies the many roles of B cells, how to target B cells gone bad, and nasal vaccines for respiratory illnesses.