Immunology and Infectious Diseases

Research includes:

  • Antibiotic and Antiviral Drug Development and Design
  • Cellular Microbiology
  • Functional Genomics
  • Gene Expression
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Immunology
  • Inflammation
  • Microbial Genomics
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Molecular Pathogenesis
  • Signal Transduction
  • Systems Biology
  • Virus Assembly
  • Virus Structure
  • Vaccine Development

Training Group Mission:

The goal of our Training Group is to prepare the next generation of research scientists, teachers, and decision-makers to address fundamental problems in immunology and infectious diseases. The Training Group offers an integrated, interdisciplinary environment for students to learn about the body’s preparation for and responses to infection, injury, and inflammation, and the molecular mechanisms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. Students in the Immunology and Infectious Diseases Training Group develop a broad understanding of biochemistry, cellular biology, host-pathogen interactions, immunology, microbiology, and molecular biology. This training provides students with a strong foundation in basic and applied research that will prepare them for a wide range of careers in academia, government and industry.

Faculty Membership

Research Area

Our research is focused on the synthesis of complex glycoproteins, natural products, and oligosaccharides of importance in immunology and oncology. Ideally, in direct collaboration with biologists and clinicians, this will lead to the identification of lead structures as pharmacological tools and potential therapeutics.

Transcriptional regulation in poxviruses
Development of small molecules, peptides and peptidomimetics for drug discovery, bionanotechnology, and cellular delivery of therapeutic agents

Chemical Immunology: Cell specific chemical perturbation of immune microenvironments in cancer, neurological and immunological disorders

Biomaterials, Musculoskeletal Regenerative Engineering, Micro/Nano-technology, Stem Cell Technology, Translational Biomedical Research
neutrophils, microRNA, cell migration, microbial-host interaction and zebrafish.

Our laboratory develops strategies that can leverage the immune system to simultaneously repair bone and control inflammation or cell viability. The overall
therapy goals are to (a) treat tumors and repair bone in tumor models and (b) treat and repair cartilage/bone in arthritis models.

Use of chemistry as a tool to elucidate biological mechanisms
Structural basis for RNA function
Molecular biology of arthropod vectors of disease, with an emphasis on vector-pathogen interactions, characterization of arthropod G protein-coupled receptors, and insecticide discovery.
method developments and applications of cryo-EM
veterinary pathology, molecular pathology, immunopathology, mouse models of human disease, inflammatory bowel disease, microbiome, colon cancer, dengue virus

Our lab focuses on acquiring and utilizing high throughput sequencing data (e.g. RNA-seq, ChIP-seq, ATAC-seq) to develop new computational models and biological assays to study genome regulation and human diseases, in particular immune related disorders and cancer. We are now working on the discovery and modeling of the regulatory circuitry of the non-coding genome which is essential for maintaining normal cellular physiology.

Epigenetic processes that mediate heritable modifications to chromatin
Viral gene expression; virus-host interactions; pathogenesis; virus receptors and virus assembly
Systems biology of host-pathogen interactions; dengue virus; malaria parasites; protein-protein interactions

Immunotherapy, A regulatory mechanism of anti-tumor immunity, A resistance mechanism of target therapy and/or immunotherapy, Antibody engineering

Diagnostic pathology, molecular pathology, and immunohistopathology of infectious, toxic, and neoplastic diseases
Dietary controls on the gut microbiome, host-microbe and microbe-microbe metabolic exchange, gut inflammation and enteropathogenesis
Development of targeted therapic and imaging agents for cancer and various inflammatory diseases. Function and molecular organization of the human red blood cell membrane. Novel methods for detection of human pathogens.
Type IV protein secretion of Legionella pneumophila; intracellular multiplication and trafficking of bacterial pathogens

Cancer immunotherapy, immunoengineering, natural killer cells, nanomedicine, cell and gene engineering, immunotherapy of solid tumors

Biochemistry, Signal Transduction, Microbiology
Molecular Genetics of Plant Immunity - with emphasis on host defense response to necrotrophic fungi
Gene-to-Lead Drug Discovery
Immune mechanisms of inflammatory diseases; T cell differentiation and function
Computational chemistry and biological NMR
Microbial pathogenesis; host-parasite interactions; molecular detection and differentiation of microbial pathogens; recombinant and DNA vaccines
Entry of retroviruses and other enveloped viruses into cells; mechanism of enzymatic phosphoryl transfer

1) Cyclic dinucleotide signaling in bacteria and immune cells. 2) Bacterial quorum sensing. 3) Inhibitors of protein kinases (examples are: FLT3, ABL1, ROCK1/2, LRRK2, RET, CDKs). 4) Novel antibacterial and anti-biofilm agents.

1) Ebola virus and Marburg virus assembly and budding from the host cell plasma membrane.
2) Ceramide-1-phosphate and other sphingolipids signaling in cancers.
3) Zika virus and alteration of host cell lipid metabolism.
4) Disovery of new lipid-binding proteins.​
Oncogene expression in eukaryotic cells
Organic synthesis, nanostructured materials science, self-assembly principles to produce exotic materials with physical or biomimetic function
The Wendt lab conducts molecular pharmacology research focused on metastatic breast cancer. We use a combination of molecular, biochemical, cell biological and whole animal studies to evaluate the impact of anticancer therapies on EMT induction and metastatic progression. Specifically, we utilize a variety of 3D and multicellular colculture models to evaluate growth factor signaling, pharmacological response to anti-cancer drugs, and as a platform for genetic and compound screening assays. In addition to these in vitro approaches we have developed novel in vivo mouse models of metastasis and drug resistance. We utilize these models in combination with bioluminesent imaging as a robust approach to locate and quantify metastatic progression.
Salmonella typhimurium Type III secretion; actin cytoskeleton rearrangements and bacteria-host interactions

Ernest C. Young Hall, Room 170 | 155  S. Grant Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2114 | 765-494-2600

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