Research

Our lab is broadly interested in understanding more about the interplay between infection, inflammation, and red blood cell biology.

How do erythroid progenitors sense and respond to pathogens?

Erythroid progenitors express several pattern recognition receptors that are capable of detecting microbial infection. In collaboration with Dr. Kellie Jurado at the University of Pennsylvania, we are interested in exploring how erythroid progenitors mount an innate antiviral immune response.

How do common substances impact endocytosis in erythroid progenitors?

Endocytosis of a foreign protein is the first step in MHC class II-mediated antigen presentation. In order to understand more about the role of erythroid progenitors as antigen presenting cells, our lab is interested in determining how different substances impact antigen uptake via endocytosis. These projects are planned and executed by Swarthmore Cell Biology students as part of our BIOL 014 course.

Is erythroid immune function evolutionarily conserved amongst vertebrates?

Mammals are the only vertebrates that discard their organelles during erythropoiesis. Nucleated red blood cells in non-mammalian vertebrates are immunologically active. Using computational approaches, we aim to identify and explore conserved immune mechanisms of vertebrate erythroid cells.

What are the mechanisms of organelle clearance in erythroid cells?

One of the unique hallmarks of erythropoiesis is the striking loss of organelles that occurs before red blood cells enter circulation. Red blood cells lose all their organelles before maturation concludes, and failure to complete this task can lead to long-term health issues, including autoimmune disease. Despite the enormous consequences of improper organelle retention, the cell biological mechanisms that promote organelle clearance are poorly understood.