Main Questions in the Lab
1. How to improve adaptive immunity during antigen persistence? During chronic infections and cancers, the T cell response becomes exhausted and unable to eliminate the persistent antigen. We aim to understand how innate immune pathways, such as TLRs, modulate T cell exhaustion, with the goal of developing better therapies for chronic infections and cancers.
2. How to improve viral vaccines? Vaccines against polio, measles, smallpox and yellow fever virus have improved survival and health worldwide. However, there are still many infectious diseases without an effective vaccine, for example HIV-1. Although we now have effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccines to protect against severe disease, breakthrough infections can occur in vaccinated individuals. We aim to develop better vaccines for viral infections, focusing on the immunoregulatory effects of type I interferons (IFN-I), and basic antigen design.
The Penaloza lab is supported by grants from NIAID, the Third Coast Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), Northwestern Cancer Center, National Institutes of Drug Abuse (NIDA), and Northwestern University.