The Alcorn laboratory is focused on pulmonary immunity, host defense, epithelial cell biology, and lung physiology as it relates to pediatric disease. A primary laboratory focus is on influenza infection and host defense mechanisms in the lung. Influenza presents a global health challenge for which there are limited therapeutics options.
The laboratory is interested in understanding key factors involved in influenza pathogenesis and host mediated immunopathology. Recent studies in the lab are focused on how preceding influenza infection suppresses the ability of the lung to respond to secondary bacterial infections. We have shown that influenza inhibits Type 17 immune activation upon secondary challenge with MRSA resulting in attenuated clearance. These data identified a novel immune mechanism involved in increased susceptibility following viral infection.
Over the last 10 years, the laboratory has extended its focus to fully elucidate immune dysfunction during influenza and influenza, bacterial super-infection. The Alcorn laboratory is also working on human immune responses to influenza vaccination and infection. These studies conducted in partnership with the CDC are focused on cell mediated immunity. The current laboratory focus combines mouse models of human lung disease with translational studies utilizing the significant access to samples here at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The group’s goal is to model human disease, as best as possible, and elucidate novel mechanisms of disease pathogenesis in order to inform therapeutic design.