Tiffany Scharschmidt, MD
Maintaining healthy dialogue between our immune system and our commensal microbes is fundamental to human health. My lab studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms that mediate the adaptive immune response to commensal bacteria, with a focus on early life events and the skin as an important barrier tissue.
Colonization by commensal microbes, education of the adaptive immune system and establishment of immune tolerance to skin commensal bacteria all occur perinatally when the host-commensal relationship is first established. Dissecting mechanisms that promote a healthy adaptive immune response to skin commensals will inform our understanding of skin immune homeostasis and potentially identify new treatment opportunities for inflammatory skin conditions in which the host-commensal relationship is disrupted.
Ongoing research in our group aims to:
- Define host pathways and immune cell populations that facilitate establishment of adaptive immune tolerance to skin commensals
- Identify commensal-derived molecules that influence the development and function of adaptive immune cell populations in the skin
- Elucidate how skin-specific structures, such as hair follicles, and the integrity of the skin barrier influence host-commensal dialogue in this tissue
Our scientific approach capitalizes on genetic manipulation of skin commensal bacteria, transcriptional profiling of both host and microbial cells and in vivo models to dissect the antigen-specific immune response to skin commensal organisms.