The Wang lab will explore how different environmental factors affect the trajectory of inflammatory diseases. When laboratory animals that are genetically identical and live in the same cages are exposed to an inflammatory challenge, such as a toxin, allergen, or infection, some will recover while others die. These dramatically different outcomes likely relate to slight differences in each animal’s personal “environment”—when it last ate, how well it slept, or whether it was experiencing some psychological or physical stress. In preliminary studies, I determined how the stress produced by physical restraint or social isolation altered how an animal responded to inflammatory challenges. Now, my lab will establish how environmental factors such as fasting, diet, and stress influence how animals handle different types of inflammation, including bacterial and viral infections and allergic challenges, and we will identify the molecules that boost their chances of survival. Working with clinical samples, we will assess if these same molecules correlate with how patients manage inflammation, work that could provide new ways to manage or prevent life-threatening inflammatory conditions such as sepsis and anaphylaxis.