Kirschner, Denise

Submitted by jacklyn.ebiasah on Fri, 03/13/2020 - 12:07
University of Michigan Medical School

The work in my laboratory focuses mainly on questions related to host-pathogen interactions in infectious diseases.  This means defining both the immune responses and the microbial characteristics that lead to infection and disease. In particular, our main focus is studying persistent infections - infections that the host is not able to clear.  The persistent pathogen we focus on is  Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  Such pathogens have evolved strategies to evade or circumvent the host-immune response and our goal is to understand the complex dynamic involved in host-pathogen interactions, together with how perturbations to this interaction (via treatment with chemotherapies or immunotherapies) can lead to prolonged or permanent health of the patient.  Drug-resistance and the effects of treatment can be efficiently studied in this setting. Currently, our research focus is on the role of the host response in pathogenesis at multiple spatial and time scales.  The grants funding our work aim to examine the immune responses in the lymph nodes and lung also during TB infection.  There are unique structures, granulomas, that are involved in the immune response to M. tuberculosis and we are developing methods to better understand their formation and function. This data could have a profound impact on our understanding the different disease trajectories seen in patients infected with persistent pathogens.  We apply a range of computational tools from deterministic mathematical models to more discrete stochastic ones such as Agent Based Models and PDEs to examine spatial questions as well.  We are focused on not only building multi-scale models, as that is key to studying these more complex biological systems, but using them to study large open-questions related to biomarker discovery, treatment regimens and vaccine development and testing.


See our lab website for more details: