InnateDB: A Systems Biology Approach to Understanding the Pathogenomics of Innate Immunity

Although humans come into contact with pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms) regularly, these encounters only rarely result in infections. Most of the time, our innate immune response system quickly eradicates potentially harmful bacteria. Innate immunity is always available, rapidly turned on, and effective against a broad range of pathogens. However, the innate immune response can also lead to tissue damage and sepsis (bloodstream infection) if over-stimulated. For her PhD research, Jennifer Gardy fine-tuned PSORT-B, a software program she developed. The program examines the biological features of proteins in disease-causing bacteria to predict where they will most likely reside. As a Post Doctoral Fellow, Jennifer is creating a computer model of the genes and proteins that comprise the innate immune system and their interactions with each other. The model will enable her to predict the effect of removing a specific gene on the immune system as a whole. This research could reveal important insights about the functions of many of the genes involved in innate immunity, and lead to the development of novel therapeutic approaches to treat a broad range of bacterial infections and autoimmune disorders.