Genhong Cheng, Ph.D.
Host Immune and Inflammatory Responses to Infections, Tissue Injuries, Cancers and Metabolic Challenges: Our research is aimed at the process of innate and adaptive immune responses in host defense against pathogen infections, tissue damages, cancers as well as metabolic challenges. Upon recognizing pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) or damage associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), host innate immune receptors from the toll-like receptor (TLR), RIG-I like receptor (RLR) and Nod like receptor (NLR) family of proteins can trigger a series of signal transduction and gene expression networks (gene programs) to initiate innate immune responses. These innate immune responses can directly control the replication or spread of bacteria and viruses. In addition, the innate immune response can also instruct the activation of adaptive immunity through induction of antigen presentation and co-stimulatory molecules. Defects in any steps in the process of the innate or adaptive immune response can increase the susceptibility of hosts to pathogen infections, whereas over-reactive immune responses can also lead to many inflammatory diseases and metabolic syndromes. We hope to understand the similarity and difference within the host immune response to different types of bacterial and viral infections, the balance between immune and inflammatory responses, as well as the crosstalk between host immune and metabolic systems. Our goal is to develop novel strategies to enhance our immune system against pathogen infections and tumor challenges while preventing or inhibiting inflammatory and metabolic diseases.