|Joshy Jacob, Ph.D.
Area of Research: Basic
Though the existence of immunological “memory,” which enables the immune system to “remember” infections and respond accordingly, has been recognized for centuries, our understanding of the cellular and molecular basis of this type of memory remains limited. As a basic immunologist, Dr. Joshy Jacob seeks to understand B cell memory. Studying memory B cells has been difficult because these cells cannot be unambiguously identified as they lack specific, permanent cell surface markers. To bridge this gap, Dr. Jacob developed a novel transgenic mouse model system that permanently “tags” and identifies memory B cells. This model enables Dr. Jacob to characterize the complex processes by B cell memory is generated, regulated and maintained.
Dr. Jacob also studies the phenomenon known as “original antigenic sin”. Humans previously exposed to influenza virus, upon infection with a novel influenza strain, produce antibodies directed primarily against the older viral strains at the expense of responses to novel protective antigenic determinants thus exacerbating the severity of current infection. This blind spot of the immune system and the redirection of responses to the “original antigen”, but not to the current virus is well established but poorly understood. Since original antigenic sin drastically dampens immune responses to newer strains of influenza virus, Dr. Jacob seeks to understand the fundamental aspects of this phenomenon such that vaccines capable of overcoming original antigenic sin can be designed.
Dr. Jacob is an Associate Professor in the Emory School of Medicine Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He received his Ph.D. in immunology from the University of Maryland School of Medicine at Baltimore, and did his post-doctoral training at the Rockefeller University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.