Daria Esterhazy, Ph.D.

Daria
Title
Assistant Professor
Department
Pathology
Institution
University of Chicago
Address
924 E 57th Street
BSLC R212
City, State, Zip
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone
773-702-0402
E-mail
[email protected]
Website
https://voices.uchicago.edu/esterhazylab/
Research Field
Immunology
Award Year
2020

Research

The Esterhazy lab will explore how intestinal infections can trigger an immune reaction in the pancreas. Dysfunction in pancreatic immunity can lead to life-threatening disease: An overactive immune response can destroy insulin-secreting pancreatic cells, leading to diabetes, while an underactive response can permit the aggressive growth of pancreatic cancer. How immune cells access and respond to this tissue is a critical question. As a postdoctoral fellow, I traced the lymphatic vessels that carry white blood cells to and from the upper small intestine and found that some of the lymph nodes into which these vessels drain are shared with the pancreas. Intriguingly, these are the most immunosuppressive lymph nodes in the entire digestive system. However, when the intestine becomes infected, the lymph nodes switch to being pro-inflammatoryand thereby could also hijack pancreatic immunity. Now, using techniques in microbiology, immunology, and molecular biology, my lab will determine how lymph nodes deal with draining multiple organs for mounting appropriate immune responses, most notably if alterations in food, gut bacteria, and infections of the upper small intestine are sufficient to trigger diabetes in mice through common lymph node drainage. We will also assess whether intestinal infection can be used to enhance immunity against pancreatic cancers. Our findings could lead to a new approach to treating pancreatic disorders, including diabetes and cancer.

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