Christopher D.C. Allen, Ph.D.


My research explores how we become allergic to seemingly harmless substances in our environment. In allergic individuals, B cells in the immune system produce a particular type of antibodies, called IgE, that recognize substances such as pollen grains or cat dander, termed allergens. These IgE antibodies are then captured and displayed on the surface of other immune cells, priming them to react vigorously when the allergen is next encountered, thereby triggering an allergic reaction. Notably, little is known about what signals cause immune cells to react to specific allergens and why IgE antibodies are produced during this response. As a faculty fellow, my laboratory engineered a strain of mice in which IgE antibody-generating B cells are specifically labeled. We will now determine where these IgE B cells arise, what conditions stimulate their generation, and whether other molecules or cells suppress this reaction in healthy individuals. These findings could provide novel approaches for the treatment or prevention of allergies and asthma.

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