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February 2024 - Stefania Gallucci Discusses DNA as a Focal Point for Immune Recognition of Bacterial Biofilms

Stefania GallucciIn an Opinion article, published in Trends in Immunology earlier this month, Stefania Gallucci, MD, professor of medicine in the Division of Innate Immunity and faculty in the Program in Innate Immunity, proposes that extracellular DNA (eDNA), a crucial component of the matrix of most biofilms, is a universal ID (identity card) that the immune system uses to recognize biofilms. Most bacteria can form biofilms which are complex fortresses against a hostile environment. Recurrent and chronic infections are associated with forming biofilms that are resistant to antibiotics and pose a major challenge in treating recalcitrant bacterial infections. Understanding whether and how the immune system recognizes the presence of biofilms is important so that we can improve therapeutic approaches to biofilm-carrying infections. Read the publication

February 2024 - Fiachra Humphries and fellow UMass Chan scientists receive PolyBio Foundation award for long COVID, neurodegenerative disease study

Fiachria Humphries, PhD, is one of three investigators at UMass Chan Medical School investigating the potential connection to and impact of long COVID on neurodegenerative disease; a study funded by the PolyBio Research Foundation. Learn more about their project. 

January 2024 - Lisa Cavacini awarded funding to study Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC)

Lisa Cavacini, PhD, was recently awarded funding from the Department of Defense, for her project, “Preclinical Development of an Oral Nanobody Prophylactic to Prevent Diarrheal Disease.” Her project focuses on Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), the leading bacterial cause of diarrhea-associated illness in developing countries. With this grant, Dr. Cavacini and her team propose an alternative and complementary approach in oral, pre-exposure prophylaxis with novel IgA antibodies that are active against all major pathogenic ETEC strains. 

January 2024 - Stefania Gallucci receives funding to study innate immunometabolism by bacterial biofilms

Stefania Gallucci, MD, recently received R21 funding from the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for her project titled, “Reprogramming of the Innate Immunometabolism by Bacterial Biofilms.” Dr. Gallucci and colleagues will explore the innate immune response against bacterial biofilms through the characterization of the transcriptional and metabolic changes occurring in dendritic cells (DC) upon recognition of bacterial amyloids. She hopes to reveal new metabolic pathways as novel therapeutic candidates, starting with the purine pathway, an understudied pathway in DC biology, to strengthen innate responses against biofilm-driven infections.

August 2023 - Fiachra Humphries among 13 faculty awarded UMass Chan BRIDGE funding

Fiachria Humphries, PhD, is among 13 faculty who have been awarded UMass Chan BRIDGE funding. The BRIDGE Fund supports critical research milestones for inventions and discoveries that have high potential to change the course of disease. The funding will mitigate investment risk by producing key data sets that would provide an attractive entry-point for partners and investors. Learn more about Dr. Humphries' project

April 2023 - Kate Fitzgerald elected to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences

Kate Fitzgerald, PhD, has been elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Read the full story here.

September 2022 - Fiachra Humphries featured as Department of Medicine Chair's Spotlight

Fiachria Humphries, PhD, has been featured as the September Department of Medicine Chair's Spotlight. Read the full spotlight here.

July 2022 - Kate Fitzgerald among awardees for 2022 BRIDGE funding

Kate Fitzgerald, PhD, has been awarded BRIDGE Funding by the UMass Chan BRIDGE Innovation and Business Development office, for two projects with commercialization potential. Dr. Fitzgerald was one of a dozen project finalists who presented to an external advisory board comprised of biomedical industry leaders, investors and venture capitalists in June. Awardees were selected by the BRIDGE Innovation & Business Development New Ventures team and the external advisory board based on scientific merit, market opportunity and commercial viability.

Dr. Fitzgerald’s first project, Development of inhibitors of ASC-dependent Inflammasomes for the treatment of inflammatory diseases”, is with collaborator Paul Thompson, PhD, Director of the Program in Chemical Biology in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biotechnology. Here, they seek to improve the potency and selectivity of inhibitors of ASC-dependent inflammasomes, which may provide greater therapeutic benefit to patients suffering from both rare and more common diseases including, Cryopyrinopathies, Familial Mediterranean Fever, Gout, Alzheimer's Disease, Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD),  Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), and Chronic Kidney Disease.

Her second, Development of STING inhibitors for the treatment of inflammatory diseases is a multi-PI project also developed with Dr. Thompson. Additionally, Fiachra Humphries, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Innate Immunity will be a contributor on this project. Here, they seek to improve the potency and selectivity of existing STING inhibitors, which may provide greater therapeutic benefit to patients suffering from inflammatory diseases such as  Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome, STING-associated vasculopathy with onset in infancy, COPA Syndrome, Lupus, macular degeneration, CVD, COPD, and IBD.

June 2022 - Fiachra Humphries selected to receive the Child Health Award from the Charles H. Hood Foundation

Fiachra Humphries, PhD, has been selected to receive one of the highly competitive Child Health Awards from the Charles H. Hood Foundation.  Dr. Humphries will study “The role of MARCO in pediatric cancer.” MARCO is a scavenger receptor expressed on tumor associated macrophages (TAMs) in the tumor microenvironment. TAMs can promote tumor growth and metastases. The study will focus on understanding how our innate immune system can control expression of MARCO on TAMs and how we can leverage these signaling events to treat child cancers. “[I’m] very grateful to the Charles H. Hood foundation for funding our study and giving us the opportunity to study an exciting new area of research in my lab”, said Dr. Humphries.