My research has been focused on oral mucosal immunity with an emphasis on aberrant inflammatory conditions of
the oral cavity. Over the past decade I have established an independent research program at the NIH aimed at
understanding the molecular and cellular basis of oral immunity in health and in the common inflammatory disease,
periodontitis. In health, the oral immune system maintains a delicate balance with a rich and diverse community of
oral commensals, performing immune surveillance while preventing inflammation. Understanding mechanisms
involved in susceptibility and pathogenesis of periodontitis is not only critical for understanding the disease itself,
but may provide insights into shared mechanisms involved in inflammatory diseases. In periodontitis, the
microbiome is considered a key disease trigger, but it is also well documented that disease occurs and progresses
more rapidly in susceptible individuals. Our studies are focused on host/microbe interactions preserving health and
mediating inflammatory disease in the oral cavity. Ultimately, we aim to define key pathways involved in
susceptibility and progression of aggressive forms of periodontitis with the goal of identifying therapeutic targets.
Our program implements a bench to bedside approach for the study of periodontal immunity and is particularly
focused on the regulation of Th17 immunity in health and periodontitis. Our studies leverage the diverse strengths
of the NIH intramural environment and interrogate mechanisms involved in human oral immunity through the study
of patients with monogenic immune disorders, supplemented by relevant animal models and novel immunologic
techniques for the study of tissue immunity.