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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Michigan: Researcher Among Recipients of $35M NIH Grant to Fund Flu Research

An international team of researchers co-led by Dr. Aubree Gordon, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and Dr. Paul Thomas of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has secured a $35 million, seven-year National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grant to look into that first infection or exposure through influenza vaccination and its effects.

“The grant will allow us to look at ‘imprinting,’ which is this idea of how your first flu exposure affects future exposures,” Dr. Gordon said. “And it’s fitting that this work, originally observed and written about at the University of Michigan, will continue to be studied, at least in part, here.

“We’ve actually realized that flu exposure history probably affects your susceptibility to additional influenza infections, although we don’t really understand why. It probably explains why sometimes the vaccine works really well in certain age populations and not others.”

The grant will allow Dr. Gordon and colleagues in Nicaragua to continue the cohort she’s been leading there since 2011, and will add similar cohorts in Los Angeles and New Zealand. Collaborators also include researchers from multiple other U.S. institutions and Australia.

“These cohorts provide a unique opportunity to define the basic immunological mechanisms in B and T cells that mediate the imprinting effect,” said Dr. Thomas, a member of the St. Jude Department of Immunology. “The fantastic team we’ve assembled will be able to provide an in-depth characterization of the developing immune system.”

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