Dr. Don Vinh
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Experimental Medicine
Associate Professor - Department of Medical Microbiology
Associate Member - Department of Human Genetics
A fundamental enigma in the field of infectious diseases is the variability in clinical outcome between individuals exposed to the same microbial environment. For a given microbe, what distinguishes those with asymptomatic colonization from those who develop a life-threatening disease? Accumulating evidence demonstrates that human genetic variations are critical determinants of immunodeficiency and susceptibility to infectious diseases.
My research focuses on identifying genetic defects of the immune system that explain why certain individuals are prone to infections. From patients with inexplicable or mysterious conditions referred to my clinic, my program performs comprehensive immunological and genetic investigations to identify the reason for their susceptibility, with the goal of identifying novel approaches to treating their conditions and restoring them back to health. The study of these rare genetic diseases of the immune system uniquely addresses both an unmet clinical need, while advancing our understanding of how the human body combats infections.
(A) Pathogen-directed host genetic defects:
- Genetic susceptibility to fungi: Candida; Cryptococcus; Aspergillus. My translational research program has been at the forefront of understanding why genetic deficiency in CARD9 increases susceptibility to invasive candidiasis in humans. With mouse models, we now aim to mechanistically dissect the role of CARD9 in immunity to Candida.
- Genetic susceptibility to recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, a distinct manifestation of HPV infection of the larynx.
(B) Genetic defects of human immuno-biology: From established cohorts of patients with combined immunodeficiency, we seek to identify novel causal genes and functionally characterize their impact, so as to develop novel therapies.
(C) Inherited Bone Marrow Failure syndromes: Through a novel translational clinic developed in conjunction with Dr. Will Foulkes (Department of Human Genetics), we seek to identify new genes that cause immunodeficiency and increased susceptibility to malignancies.