The primary research goal of Jie Sun, Ph.D., is to develop novel ideas and methods for the induction of strong antiviral and anti-tumor immunity in the respiratory tract. The secondary goal is to target host immunological regulatory networks for the control of collateral tissue damage and the development of chronic sequelae after various respiratory insults.
- Transcriptional and metabolic regulation of cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses. CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are crucial for clearing virus-infected or transformed cells. Dr. Sun's lab is interested in the transcriptional and metabolic regulation of CTL responses in vivo. The lab has recently identified that several transcription factors are important in sustaining robust expansion and proper effector differentiation of CTLs in vivo during viral infection and cancer. The lab is currently investigating the up- and downstream signals and factors regulating the function of these transcription factors, and the effects of these transcription factors in the metabolic and epigenetic modulation of CTL responses against influenza infection and cancer.
- Regulation of pulmonary inflammation resolution and tissue repair following influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections. Following the clearance of pathogens, prompt resolution of inflammation and proper repair of the injured tissue are required for the restoration of normal lung homeostasis and function. The lab is investigating the exact immunological mechanisms regulating inflammation resolution and tissue repair following viral respiratory infections, with a particular focus on the roles of tissue resident macrophages in the processes. The lab is also interested in identifying novel molecular mechanisms regulating macrophage inflammatory and antiviral function, and their renewal in the tissue following viral respiratory infections.
- Interplay of acute viral respiratory infections and chronic lung conditions. Viral respiratory infections often accelerate or exacerbate pre-existing chronic lung disorders, and conversely, chronic lung disorders may dampen host immunity to viral infections. However, the underlying immunological mechanisms regulating the interplay of viral respiratory infections and chronic disorders are poorly defined currently. The lab is interested in translating our knowledge gained in the basic immunological studies in naive mice to address how acute viral infections accelerate or exacerbate chronic lung diseases and how pre-existing chronic disorders enhance host susceptibility to acute viral respiratory infections.
- Regulation of antiviral immunity in aging. Aging is associated with dramatically increased risk of developing severe diseases following influenza and RSV infection, and the development of chronic lung diseases. The lab is currently studying the age-associated decline in pulmonary immunity and its contribution in the susceptibility to viral respiratory infections. Ultimately, the lab is hoping to develop various means to enhance respiratory immunity and to minimize the development of severe diseases following viral respiratory infections in aged hosts.
Significance to patient care
Viral respiratory infections and lung cancer are great challenges for public health. Dr. Sun's work has been improving the understanding of the disease pathogenesis in infection and cancer, and providing novel approaches to prevent and treat these diseases.
- Standing member, Immunity and Host Defense (IHD) Study Section, National Institutes of Health, 2017- present
- Watanabe Scholar, Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, 2016
- Recipient, Creative and Novel Ideas in HIV Research Award, International AIDS Society, 2014
- Associate scientific advisor, Science Translational Medicine, 2014
- Recipient, Invitrogen Trainee Achievement Award, American Association of Immunologists, 2009