Individuals exhibit extensive differences in response to infection. Understanding how and why immune responses vary would enable us to predict responses to infection and autoimmune diseases. My research investigates why innate immune responses vary across individuals, focusing on differences in gene expression. I previously showed that several immune genes are controlled by regulatory elements derived from transposons, which are genetic parasites that are occasionally domesticated for host functions. Transposons continue to generate extensive genetic and epigenetic variation in modern species, but the effects of these recent insertions have remained obscure. I will generate both population-scale and single-cell functional genomic datasets to investigate how transposons have shaped regulatory variation in mammalian immune responses. This research may uncover novel roles for transposons in regulating functional variation across individuals and single cells.

Awards and Achievements

  • Sloan Research Fellow
  • Boettcher Investigator