Research

The Georgia Immunoengineering Consortium's goal is to impact human health, in a personalized and predictive manner, through the application of innovative immune technologies to clinically relevant problems. Disease targets currently being investigated by GIEC Researchers include infectious diseases, inflammation and autoimmune disorders such as diabetes and lupus; improving immune regeneration therapy; cancer; other inflammatory conditions such as device-associated infection, arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.

In order to address these Grand Challenges, researchers at Georgia Tech and Emory focus on a broad range of scientific areas including:

Fundamental Immunology

ImmunoEngineering rests on knowledge of how the immune system functions and malfunctions. Researchers at Georgia Tech and Emory investigate pathogen and autoimmune self-antigen recognition by T- and B-cells of the adaptive immunity, the trafficking of cells through blood and lymphatic vasculatures, signaling events that control the key functions of antigen-presenting dendritic cells and their interactions with biomaterials.

Immuno-Profiling: Sensing, Imaging, and Assay Development

The immune system involves complex interactions of many different cells and tissues, in which timing is essential. In order to assess a patient’s immunological status, follow the results of treatment, and facilitate the development of new therapeutic and vaccine agents, it is vital to be able to measure and/or visualize the components of the immune response at work and at the same time assess and characterize the overall immune state and immune function of a patient. New capabilities in methods such as fluorescence and magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, resonance Raman spectroscopy, and imaging mass spectrometry have been developed recently by Georgia Tech scientists, in collaboration with health providers in several Atlanta area hospitals. This has led to key advancements including characterizations at the single cell level, such as microfluidic trapping and fluorescence imaging of single immune cells, to whole animal characterizations, including PET imaging of immune cell localization within infectious disease models.

Modeling and Systems Immunology

The immune system is nature’s engine for molecular evolution, in which an effective response can be mounted to almost any pathogenic challenge. This requires the generation and processing of a vast number of molecular signals in a short time and poses a unique challenge for computational prediction. As our tools for uncovering genetic and biochemical information about the immune system become ever more powerful, this complex system as a whole can be understood only by applying the most powerful methods for data analysis and computational modeling. Georgia Tech’s internationally recognized capabilities in computational and systems biology, high-throughput data analysis and high-performance computing are being applied to this problem in collaboration with various experimental groups.

Immune-Therapeutics: Enhancement and Modulation of Immune Responses

ImmunoEngineers provide a combination of synthetic, analytical, and systems knowledge to create functional structures that have a positive impact on the immune function of individuals. GIEC investigators specialize in bio- and nanomaterials that contain effective combinations of immune effectors, modulators and advanced delivery systems that can precisely and effectively control the immune system. New generations of vaccines and immunotherapies against infectious diseases, cancers and autoimmune disorders are emerging from these efforts. In addition, Emory and Georgia Tech are leaders in the discovery of new stem cell-based therapies and tissue-engineering strategies for regenerative medicine, an endeavor in which the immune system plays a critical role. Stem Cell-based immunotherapies as well as controlling inflammation and modulating the immune response during regenerative therapies and organ transplantation require multifunctional biomaterials and new engineering strategies.

How These Focus Areas Interact

Figure 1 illustrates how these focus areas interact with each other.

Figure 1 illustrates how these focus areas interact with each other.