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Our research focuses on understanding how differences in host immune responses impact susceptibility to infection. We primarily concentrate on how the circadian clock affects macrophage and neutrophil immune dynamics in the context of Streptococcus pneumoniae, as well as how bacterial affect the host circadian clock. 


S. pneumoniae asymptomatically colonizes a significant portion of the human population, but, in the unfortunate few, can cause severe and life threatening invasive disease such as pneumonia, sepsis, meningitis, and death. How do variations in innate immunity contribute to these different states (i.e. asymptomatic colonization or invasive disease) and what bacterial factors upset this balance? Ultimately, if we understand these differences, we may be able to make novel therapeutics that enhance natural immunity already found within the population instead of relying solely on antibiotics to combat infectious disease. 

Want to see first hand what it's like to work in the Kimmey Lab? 

Watch below - laughter and mistakes included  :) 

Current areas of focus

We use a combination of microbiology, cell biology, molecular genetics and immunology techniques, as well as in vitro and in vivo models (murine and zebrafish) to answer questions such as

  • How do circadian rhythms control susceptibility and progression of disease?​

    • What determines time of day differences in susceptibility? ​

    • How do microbes alter the core molecular clock?

  • How are macrophage and neutrophil defenses regulated?

    • How do host factors influence sensing of bacterial signals?

    • Can innate defenses be augmented while limiting self damage?

  • How does S. pneumoniae pathogenesis differ in various tissues?

    • What bacterial factors contribute to disease in each site?

    • What immune responses are required to control infection? 

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We also are developing zebrafish as model to study circadian rhythms during infection. Zebrafish are genetically tractable, optically transparent, and essentially - scientifically awesome! Current questions include:

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  • What are the fundamental properties and cellular regulation of the zebrafish clock?

  • How do cellular clocks respond to infection and inflammation?

  • Do changes in circadian rhythms predict disease outcome?

CLOCK reporter provided by Thomas Dickmeis

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