Research

The Kimmey Lab research focuses on understanding how differences in host immune responses impact susceptibility or resistance to bacterial infection. We primarily concentrate on macrophage and neutrophil immune dynamics in the context of Streptococcus pneumoniae infection, but also utilize Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A Strep), Streptococcus agalactiae (Group B Strep), and Staphylococcus aureus. These organisms are able to asymptomatically colonize 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. The research in the Kimmey Lab is focused on understanding how variations in innate immunity contribute to these different states (i.e. asymptomatic colonization or invasive disease) and how bacterial factors can upset this balance. Furthermore, once an invasive infection has begun, how do differences in immune response impact disease outcome? 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. 

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The Kimmey Lab utilizes a combination of microbiology, cell biology, molecular genetics and immunology techniques, as well as in vitro and in vivo models to answer these questions. 

Current questions of interest

  • How do host factors influence sensing and response to bacterial signals?

  • How are macrophage and neutrophil defenses regulated?

  • Can innate defenses be augmented against infection while limiting self damage?

  • How does disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae differ in various tissues. (i.e. pneumonia, sepsis, meningitis)

    • What bacterial factors contribute to disease in each site?

    • What immune responses are required to control infection?