Welcome to the Laboratory of Nicole Baumgarth

We investigate the basic immunological mechanisms that regulate and control immune responses to pathogens.

All currently licensed vaccines rely on providing immune protection via the induction of pathogen-specific antibodies. Despite the unquestionable importance of antibodies and the cells that produce antibodies, i.e. the B lymphocytes, much remains to be learned about the reasons why such vaccine-induced antibody responses are often of lesser duration and lower magnitude than responses induced following infection with replicating viruses, bacteria and parasites.

Our lab is focused on providing a better understanding of the regulation of B cell subset responses to infection. We primarily use mouse-models to study successful and less successful responses. Much of our work relies on in vivo and ex vivo analyses tools such as 13-parameter flow cytometry for functional and phenotypic studies, histology and immunohistochemistry, ELISA, ELISPOT, Laser-dissection microscopy, microarray and qRT-PCR analysis and other state-of-the-art cellular and molecular immunological assays. We breed numerous genetically engineered mice that help us to dissect specific aspects of the immune response.

The infectious disease model we have been working on for many years now is influenza infection. This model functions as an outstanding example of a highly successful B cell response induced in the respiratory tract, which we can use to identify the innate and adaptive immune regulators that control the induction and maintenance of highly protective responses.

Click above to Enlarge Figure 1

More recently, in collaboration with Stephen Barthold, we are now also studying infections with the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme Disease. This intriguing model of a chronic non-resolving infection affords us to study B cell responses that while strongly induced, are ultimately fail to clear the host from infection.

Click above to Enlarge Figure 2

Using these models the current research emphasis is on i) innate immune signals induced by the infection and how they shape the B cell response, ii) the role and function of specific B cells subsets, particularly B-1 cells, iii) regulation of antibody-production in the respiratory tract and iv) the role, regulation and function of T helper cells.


Nicole Baumgarth, DVM, PhD
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