Areas of Research
Research in the Bhattacharya Lab is focused on the cellular and molecular steps which induce durable immunity to infectious pathogens. We use modern approaches to study antibodies as they mature and bind avidly to pathogens upon infection or vaccination, and we identify the genes which allow B cells to persist and produce these antibodies. Using this information, we employ stem cell engineering approaches to create transplantable B cells and plasma cells with specificities against mutable viruses. Please click on a specific area of interest for more details.
Duration of Immunity
Long-lived plasma cells are solely responsible for maintaining antigen-specific antibodies long after clearance of infection or vaccination. Ongoing work is focused on identifying genetic regulators of survival in these cells and the infections which induce them.
Embryonic Stem Cell Engineering
A small fraction of patients infected with flaviviruses such as Zika, Dengue, and West Nile virus develop remarkable antibodies that neutralize nearly all clinical isolates of these pathogens. Using novel targeted nuclease technologies, we are engineering human embryonic stem cells to express these antibodies and differentiating them into transplantable long-lived plasma cells.
The importance of the memory B cell response in conferring protection to re-infection has remained controversial. Our recent work has established that memory B cells are excellent at recognizing not only the original pathogen, but also mutant escape variants of the pathogen.
Hematopoietic Stem Cell Biology
The adult stem cell precursor to B cells and all other blood lineages is the hematopoietic stem cell. We are using genetic approaches to identify novel receptors and ligands that guide hematopoietic stem cells and their progeny to their proper niches and regulate their behavior.