Erol Fikrig is studying the relationship between pathogens, the vectors that carry them, and the hosts they infect, and looking for ways to interrupt those relationships to prevent or treat disease.
New Strategies to Prevent Arthropod-Borne Diseases
Our laboratory primarily focuses on understanding the pathogenesis of, and immunity against, arthropod-borne infectious diseases. Ongoing research projects encompass illnesses transmitted by ticks or mosquitoes, including Lyme disease, human anaplasmosis, West Nile encephalitis, dengue fever, and malaria. We are defining the triangular relationships that occur when vector, pathogen, and host products interact during the feeding process. Approaches to interfere with these associations may lead to new vaccines and therapies for many of these diseases.
Lyme disease: We are investigating how Borrelia burgdorferi gene expression differs in diverse tissues, and the immunopathogenesis of Lyme arthritis.
Human granulocytic anaplasmosis: We are studying how this unusual obligate intracellular pathogen persists in both ticks and mammalian neutrophils.
Flaviviral infections: We are elucidating the factors essential for the survival of West Nile virus and dengue virus in mosquitoes and the vertebrate host. Our group also examines the innate immune responses that contribute to the genesis of West Nile encephalitis.
Translational projects in the laboratory focus on defining how innate immune responses change as we get older, or are given immunosuppressive agents, and how this influences susceptibility to infection and the ability to respond to vaccines.