Infection & Immunity ProgrammeThe ubiquity of human viruses such as Hepatitis B (HBV), Human Papilloma (HPV), Epstein-Barr (EBV) and Influenza (IV) viruses have widespread implications for human diseases. Among Asians, the prevalence of HBV infections alone is startling – 75% of the worldwide incidence of HBV infections, presently estimated as 350 million individuals, is in Asia alone. A similar geographic and ethnic bias for HPV and EBV highlights a pressing need for more research on this front. Yet in Asian populations, the viral-human relationships are not as well understood. As such, we are interested to examine the immune-pathogenetic aspects of such interactions that result in disease, with the aim to develop future therapeutic strategies that can be more effective applied in the populations of greatest need.
More specifically, we are keen to understand these two broad areas in viral infection. Firstly, what are the molecular mechanisms involved when infection strikes different organs, and how does the immune system respond?
A number of oncogenic viruses (HBV, HPV and EBV) also contribute to solid tumors formation after a period of prolonged or chronic infection – how and why does this take place?With such knowledge, we build biological tools that can be tested both in vivo and in vitro, as new immune therapies against chronic viral infections. Our researchers are a diverse team of experiences, talents and interests in complementary areas. Each lab within the infection and immunity (I&I) group addresses a specific clinical need of Asian patients today, utilizing patient samples to develop immune therapies directly tailored to the needs of these populations. Though each virus presents a distinct infection, we are keen to know how the immune system normally responds to these incursions; more particularly, the function of T and NK cells in different organs. Our multipronged approach to assessing anti-viral immune function concurrent in liver, lung, eye and uterus, major sites of viral infection, presents an unparalleled opportunity to compare the influence of distinct microenvironments on immune cell function.