Welcome to the Waldschmidt Lab
My research program is focused on B lymphocytes, one of the key lymphocyte populations within the adaptive immune system. Throughout the years, I have investigated the development, subset diversity, activation and function of B cells. In particular, we study the regulation of germinal centers as well as B cell responses in the airway after influenza infection or vaccine challenge.
Germinal centers (GCs): One of the key higher level functions of B cells is the production of high affinity, switched antibodies (Abs), as well as the development of long-lived cells (memory and plasma cells) that produce these Abs for extended periods. GCs are anatomic structures that arise in response to challenge with infectious agents, and foster the multiple cellular and molecular processes that allow B cells to differentiate into memory and plasma B cell capable of secreting these specialized Abs. My laboratory has been interested in analyzing the progression of B cell differentiation within GCs, as well as the regulation of GC activity by T regulatory cells.
Influenza: After primary infection with influenza virus, cytotoxic CD8+ T cells play a central role in clearing the infection in the lung. However, B cells are also activated with the induction of GCs both in the local lymph nodes and in the airway itself. This results in the production of high affinity IgG and IgA anti-influenza Abs. These Abs are crucial to prevent infection upon subsequent exposure to the same virus, and can offer cross-protection to related viruses. The induction of GCs and generation of Abs is also the goal of influenza vaccines, and the primary reason why these vaccines are effective. In collaboration with Kevin Legge, my laboratory is examining the cellular components of the B cell response (rather than just Abs) in the airway after infection or vaccine challenge. Our goal is to generate intranasal influenza vaccines that can mimic the response observed after viral challenge without generating the adverse effects that accompany infection.