John Harty Laboratory

  • Research

    Research in the Harty laboratory is focused on understanding the dynamics of the T cell response, how effector and memory T cell differentiation are regulated, how memory T cell populations are maintained and how they can be generated and manipulated to enhance protective immunity. We have pursued these interests for over 20 years using mouse models of bacterial (Listeria monocytogenes) and viral (Lymphocytic choriomeningiitis Virus, Vaccinia Virus, Mouse Hepatitis Virus, Influenza Virus) infection as well as dendritic cell and nanoparticle immunizations.

    In 2005, Dr. Harty took sabbatical at The Welcome Trust Center for Human Genetics in Oxford, UK to learn about malaria vaccines in humans and rodents. The Harty lab obtained Plasmodium infected mosquitoes in June of 2007 and commenced on our safari into mouse models of malaria, where we now have interests in understanding the basic mechanisms that can be used enhance immunity to both the liver and blood-stages of infection.

    The major approaches in the lab involve identification of new questions through sophisticated analyses of in vivo T cell responses to various pathogens or immunization regimens. These observations are then dissected at the cellular, biochemical and molecular levels to generate a comprehensive mechanistic view of T cell regulation. Ultimately our goal is to provide fundamental insights that will inform vaccine design and therapeutic interventions for major human infectious diseases.

    Current projects in the lab focus on

    1. The impact of repetitive antigen-exposure on memory CD8 T cell populations
    2. The role of inflammatory cytokines on differentiation and function of effector and memory CD8 T cells
    3. The molecular regulation of memory T cell trafficking
    4. The mechanisms underlying stable maintenance of memory CD8 T cell numbers
    5. Cellular interactions required for memory CD8 T cell immunity to lung infection with Influenza virus
    6. Mechanisms of memory CD8 T cell immunity to liver-stage Plasmodium infection
    7. Optimizing T cell responses to whole attenuated Plasmodium vaccines
    8. The interactions between the host immune system and blood-stage Plasmodium infection that influence parasite persistence versus clearance