Research Interest

The objective of our laboratory is to characterize and define acquired and innate immune response at mucosal surfaces such as lung and gut; investigate the mechanisms underlying the regulation of those responses; explore the mechanisms by which those responses contribute to inflammatory, allergic diseases and asthma; and determine means by which those responses can be specifically manipulated. The studies and research interests of Dr. Akbari’s laboratory can be categorized into the following major areas:

T cell subsets, costimulatory molecule and immunoregulation of diseases

We are interested in the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the development and function of T-cell subsets that produce different cytokines and are involved in immunization (vaccination) and inflammation.

Role of dendritic cell subsets in regulation of immune responses

Our research is focused on the mechanisms employed by dendritic cells to regulate lymphocyte function in tolerance and immunity, as well as the use of dendritic cells and their subsets to understand the development of immune-based diseases for design of new therapies and vaccines.

Role of innate lymphoid cells in allergic lung inflammation and metabolic diseases

We intend to explore how type 2 responses are initiated, potentiated and maintained, focusing on group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2 cells) and their interactions with other innate and adaptive cells in the context of type 2 diabetes, asthma, and lung inflammation.

Role of metabolic pathways and autophagy in immune cell activation and inflammation

We investigate the effects of immune cells on organs that regulate metabolism, including adipose tissue and liver. More importantly, we explore the role of metabolic pathways and autophagy within immune cells and explore how metabolic pathways modulate the immune response.

Targeting immune system and costimulatory molecules to improve anti-tumor immunity

The full activation of immune cells is essential to maintain anti-tumor responses. The results from our lab and others suggest that costimulatory molecules play crucial roles in the modulation of immune response and improvement of antitumor immunity. Therefore, targeting costimulatory pathways represent an attractive therapeutic strategy to enhance the antitumor immunity in several human cancers.

Respiratory tolerance and regulatory T cells

Respiratory tolerance is a state of immunological non-responsiveness induced by exposure to innocuous antigens inhaled in the respiratory tract. Understanding the pathways involved in the induction and maintenance of respiratory tolerance to airborne allergens is important in designing new therapies for asthma and other allergic diseases. Respiratory tolerance, and mucosal immunity are maintained by complex immune mechanisms including deletion, anergy, or induction of regulatory T cells. we are interested in exploring those immune mechanism with the idea to develop strategies to induce mucosal and respiratory tolerance, particularly among patients with established lung inflammation.

Mechanism for lung inflammation and ARDS

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is a form of severe hypoxemic respiratory failure characterized by inflammatory injury to the lungs. We developed many platforms to understand the pathophysiology of ARDS, offering unique opportunities to identify new targets for intervention.