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Akiko Iwasaki is interested in how immunity is initiated and maintained at mucosal surfaces – natural ports of entry for pathogens. Iwasaki and her team focus on understanding how viruses are recognized (innate immunity) and how that information is used to generate protective adaptive immunity. They study immune responses to herpes simplex viruses in the genital tract and influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2 in the lung. The team also investigates the role of endogenous retroviruses and transposable elements in host immunity and physiology. Ultimately, their goal is to improve rational design of effective therapeutics and vaccines to prevent transmission of viral pathogens.