Our laboratory is focused on understanding what goes wrong in white blood cells to cause allergic diseases such as asthma and food allergy, and autoimmune conditions such as lupus.
We are particularly interested in how changes to DNA, called epigenetic changes, switch white blood cells from protecting against infection to causing these diseases. In the long term we plan to use this knowledge to develop new treatments that ‘rewire’ white blood cells to prevent allergy and infection.
Our research aims to understand the complex epigenetic circuitry that underlies immune cell function, which should lead to therapies designed to rewire lymphocytes, as new treatments for infection or allergy.
Epigenetic modifications to chromatin may promote immune cell phenotypic stability by influencing the ability of transcription factors to bind to DNA and affecting whether and to what level specific genes are expressed in a cell. However, we are only at the tip of the iceberg in our understanding of how these processes affect lymphocyte fate.
We use a multi-disciplinary approach that combines gene-deficient models, biochemistry and contemporary molecular techniques to develop a fundamental understanding of the chromatin architecture and epigenetic networks that control important steps of immune cell differentiation during development, allergy and infection.