The VIPU’s primary goal is to gain fundamental insights into the biology of antiviral effector cells in both peripheral and lymphoid tissues. The VIPU seeks to better understand the mechanisms employed by lymphocytes to control viral infection over the entirety of the immune response.
Heather Hickman, Ph.D. (She/Her/Hers)
Chief, Viral Immunity and Pathogenesis Unit
Ph.D., University of Oklahoma
Dr. Heather Hickman received her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Oklahoma where she investigated the presentation of virus-derived peptides by major histocompatibility (MHC) class I molecules. Dr. Hickman first joined the NIH as a postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Diseases, NIAID, to study antiviral immunity under the mentorship of Dr. Jonathan Yewdell.
Cynthia Celeste Aguilar, M.Sc. (She/Her/Hers)
M.Sc., Interdisciplinary Studies, Biomedical Sciences and Biomedical Engineering, 2020, University of Central Florida The Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, Orlando
B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies, Physical Sciences and Behavioral and Social Sciences (Minor in Global Peace and Security), 2017, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
Languages Spoken: Spanish, French
I am currently involved in an in-depth exploration of the lymphohematogenous dissemination of Zika virus. I develop novel imaging protocols and suture assays to help our lab understand antibody protection against Zika virus and to better understand lymphatic drainage in general. I find the best research stems from an interdisciplinary approach, combining both immunology and virology.
Morgan Erin Brisse, Ph.D. (She/Her/Hers)
Ph.D., Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics, University of Minnesota
B.S., Biochemistry with honors, University of Michigan
My project focuses on development of antiviral immunity in the lymph node. I am specifically trying to understand the how the flow of lymph is altered by different inflammatory stimuli, including mosquito saliva. Further, I am looking at the role of specific lymphatic endothelial cell proteins in the transport of molecules to and through the lymph node.
Joanna M. Droppo, B.S. (She/Her/Hers)
B.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Joanna has a strong interest in researching more about the immune system. Previous work she has completed served to investigate the role of interferon in determining the population dynamics of lab-adapted H1N1 viruses. At NIAID, she will be investigating the mechanisms used by T cells to clear viral infections in the skin and other tissues.
Anurag Kalia, M.Sc., Ph.D. (She/Her/Hers)
Doctorate, National Institute of Immunology, Delhi, India
M.Sc., Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India
Languages Spoken: Hindi
Andy Lujan, R.N. (He/Him/His)
BSN, The University of Texas at El Paso
Languages Spoken: Spanish
I investigate the dynamics of innate Group I ILCs and adaptive T cells during viral infection. Specifically, I investigate protease expression and how cytokines influence their expression during pox virus infection.
Luxin Pei, Ph.D. (She/Her/Hers)
Ph.D., NIH-Johns Hopkins University Graduate Partnership Program
B.S., The Pennsylvania State University
Languages Spoken: Mandarin
T cells undergo significant metabolic changes in response to evading pathogens. Luxin’s project focuses on the metabolic control and mitochondria dynamics of antiviral T cells during vaccinia virus infection.
Glennys V. Reynoso, R.N., B.S.
B.S., University of Tampa
B.S.N., Marrymount University
Languages Spoken: Spanish
The focus of my research is to understand how the lymph node microenvironment and anatomy affect the immune response to viral pathogens.
Olivia Wise-Dent, B.A.
B.A., Animal Science, minor in Infectious Disease, Cornell University
My project analyzes density changes in type 1 innate lymphoid cells (ILC1s) in the murine oral mucosa and their impact on viral protection and trained immunity. I also study the interactions of ILC1s with other immune cells in the oral mucosa using flow cytometry and microscopy.
Former Research Group Members
2013-2015, Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA), Kendall (Karpe) Haddad, B.S., D.M.M., School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, M.M.Sc., Harvard School of Dental Medicine
2014, Summer Student, Shermaine Hutchins, B.S., M.P.H., Yale University School of Public Health, Wyandot County Public Health, Ohio
2014-2016, Postbaccalaureate IRTA, Ryan Carlson, B.S., M.D., Ph.D., University of Washington School of Medicine
2016-2018, Postbaccalaureate IRTA, Jack Chovanec, B.S., M.D., University of Wisconsin, School of Medicine and Public Health
2018-2020, Postbaccalaureate IRTA, Jiwon Kim, B.S., M.S., M.S., Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Medical College of Wisconsin
2019, Postbaccalaureate IRTA, Peter Balough, B.S., RA Capital Management
2019-2021, Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow, Young Hwan Park, Ph.D., Andong National University, Korea