Liza Konnikova, MD PhD FAAP
- My group focuses on answering basic question about how human mucosal immunity develops. How early is it formed? Does that differ for various mucosal sites? What are the mechanisms responsible for priming it? What is the cross talk between the various cellular components that maintains homeostasis? What role does mucosal immunity play in the pathogenesis of diverse diseases such as sepsis, preterm labor, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), very early onset (VEO) and pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
- My post-doctoral training, under the supervision of Dr. Scott Snapper (HMS) focused on the development of gastrointestinal (GI) tolerance in children. During that time, I had developed methodology for cryopreserving intestinal tissue with excellent viability and cell recovery. This technique enabled us to collect and study very rare diseases by preserving affected tissue at multiple sites followed by batch analysis (Mucosal Immunology, 2018). Since then, we have adapted this protocol to cryopreserving a number of other tissues such as the placenta, liver and spleen among others. This has allowed us to establish a large biorepository (over 5,000 samples) of control and disease cryopreserved tissue lasting the entire human lifespan.
- Using a variety of single cell techniques such as mass cytometry (CyTOF), imaging mass cytometry (IMC), and single cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq), we are studying how innate and adaptive human fetal intestinal immunity develops (Developmental Cell, 2019) and the potential in utero mechanisms responsible for priming it for ex utero life (JCI Insight, 2020). On going studies also include understanding of mechanisms leading to normal mucosal homeostasis, and the contribution of immune dysregulation to necrotizing enterocolitis, a devastating complication of prematurity. Additionally, building on our recent work charactering immune signatures differentiating ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease (Gastroenterology, 2020), we are studying mechanisms involved in inflammation in IBD. Finally, we are studying the contribution of the fetal immune system to maintaining placental homeostasis and potentially contributing to mechanisms involved in preterm and term labor.