Lung Immunology Lab of Jane Deng, M.D., at UCLA



The Lung Immunology Lab of Jane Deng, M.D., at UCLA studies host defense against acute respiratory pathogens. In particular, we seek to understand the pathogenesis of polymicrobial infections. We all acquire multiple infections throughout our lifetime, and each infection leaves an indelible imprint on our immune systems. However, research in this area has traditionally employed models of single infection. Not surprisingly, attempts to translate potential therapeutics from “bench” to “bedside” have only had limited success, in part due to a poor understanding of what is truly responsible for the severity of many infections.

Our lab has examined the pathogenesis of bacterial pneumonia following sepsis, and the pathogenesis of pneumonia following viral infections such as influenza. Bacterial pneumonia is especially lethal if someone is recovering from sepsis or a recent viral infection. Collectively, these types of infections contribute to over 20 million deaths worldwide every year, underscoring the global significance of infectious diesases. Even in the United States, influenza, pneumonia, and sepsis are in the top 12 causes of death, despite the availability of cutting edge medical technologies, vaccines, and potent antibiotics. We perform basic science, clinical, and translational research studies to examine this problem, although the primary thrust of the lab is focused on translational work aimed at bringing basic laboratory findings to the clinical side. At present, we are examining how the antiviral immune response activated in the lungs during influenza infections affects an individual's ability to combat bacterial challenge of the lungs. We hope to elucidate why patients who survival influenza are more susceptible to secondary bacterial “superinfections,” which remains a leading cause of death during influenza pandemics and epidemics. 

In addition, we are tackling this problem from a bioinformatics angle. Recently, much excitement has arisen over the roles played by "normal" bacteria which inhabit the human body (i.e., the "microbiota.") Under normal conditions, our bodies are believed to harbor 100 trillion bacteria (bacterial cells), which outnumber our own cells at a ratio of 10:1. In addition to not causing invasive infectious diseases, these "healthy" bacteria seem to have important roles in maintaining the health of our bodies. In contrast, during disease, the composition of our bacterial communities can change drastically, raising the possibilities that this shift may contribute to progression of disease, and that probiotic therapies might restore health as an adjunct form of treatment. In conjunction with investigators at the J. Craig Venter Institute and University of Pittsburgh, we are seeking to understand how acute viral infections change the microbiome (bacteria and viral composition) of the upper respiratory tract and the health implications of these changes. 

JOB POSTINGS: (March, 2014)
- IMMEDIATE OPENING: Seeking a post-doctoral candidate with background in molecular biology, microbiology, genetics, or immunology. Computational background an asset. Only NIH training grant-eligible candidates (U.S. citizen or permanent resident only). Full benefits and competitive salary. Please send CV and 2-3 letters of reference to jdeng@mednet.ucla.edu.
Subpages (1): Publications