The Division of Immunology is committed to carry out basic research relevant to immunology of infectious diseases. The current focus of our research is to understand the regulatory mechanisms of T cell activation and inactivation during infection. The basic understanding of these mechanisms will be applied to novel therapies and vaccine development.
(1) Immunology of malaria
Malaria is one of the most important infectious diseases with 300-500 million clinical cases and ~2 million deaths annually. However, an effective vaccine has not been developed, and its treatment encounter increasing difficulties due to the appearance of drug-resistant strains of Plasmodium parasites.
It is known that T-cells play critical roles for the protection against malaria. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the T-cell immune responses during malaria infection are poorly understood. Our current research focuses on the regulation of T-cell immune responses during malaria infection. We welcome students and researchers who are interested on these topics.
(2) Molecular mechanisms of T-cell activation and functional differentiation
T-cells differentiate in the thymus and become mature native T-cells that circulate in the periphery. These T-cells develop into functional effector cells after encounter with their appropriate antigens. The types of effector cells that they develop are crucial for the protection against pathogens. We are involved in the study on the molecular mechanisms underlying the functional maturation of T-cells using varieties of gene knockout and transgenic mice. In particular, we study the role of Interferon regulatory factor-4 (IRF-4) in the function of immune cells in collaboration with Prof. Matsuyama, Division of Cytokine signaling.