The research in the McDonald Laboratory investigates the control of innate immune responses involved in host defense to bacterial pathogens. We are interested in how alterations in these responses contribute to the development of auto-inflammatory diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease. A particular focus of the laboratory is on the mechanisms of activation and regulation of the bacterial sensor protein NOD2 in immune cells and epithelium.
In the intestine, the immune system needs to perform a careful balancing act to preserve a community of beneficial micro-organisms, while defending against potentially harmful pathogens. When this balance goes awry, it can lead to inflammatory bowel disease. The McDonald Lab is investigating how genetic and dietary factors influence antimicrobial defenses of the gut and how they contribute to the development and progression of the inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease. We are also defining how these defenses are controlled to determine whether they can be targeted therapeutically to correct disease-associated alterations in antimicrobial defense or be applied to control antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.
Special thanks to the following individuals for their monetary support of our research program: