Faculty and Research

Aballay Lab Members

Brian Head
Postdoctoral Associate

270 Jones Building
Box 3580 DUMC
Durham, N.C. 27710

Phone: 919.668.2449
Fax: 919.668.0795
Email: brian.head@duke.edu

Brian Head

Over the past 500 million years, the innate immune system of animals and plants has evolved to maintain a healthy "load" of endemic microorganisms. "Beneficial" commensals proliferate in various compartments of multicellular organisms; this is tolerated by the innate immune system. On the other hand, the innate immune system actively attempts (and, mostly succeeds) to suppress growth of harmful pathogens. How does the innate immune system distinguish between beneficial and harmful microbes when they have similar chemical signatures? When activation is warranted, how is the innate immune system controlled at both the cellular and organismal level?

In the Aballay lab, I am using C. elegans as a model system to address these questions. Previous work from our lab demonstrated that the C. elegans CED-1 protein, a homologue of mammalian scavenger receptors, controls activation of a non-canonical UPR during an immune response. How does CED-1 fit in the control hierarchy of immune system activation? Moreover, I am addressing the interplay between CED-1 and various neuronal circuits in the worm.

Outside of the lab, I enjoy running, playing volleyball (I even found a "beach" at Duke), and hiking. Also, I'm preparing for the inevitable Zombie apocalypse (even the CDC agrees) by preparing food stores of pickled okra and exploring Duke forest escape routes.




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