Research | Queen’s University Canada

Eva Kaufmann

Eva Kaufmann

Evaluating innate immune memory in allergy and infection: This research investigates whether respiratory infections and allergen exposure induce a memory function in innate immune cells that predispose individuals or asthma development.

[Dr. Eva Kaufmaan]
Canada Research Chair in Immunology and Inflammation
Tier 2

Innate Immune Memory in Asthma and the Quest for Targeted Immunotherapies

Dr. Eva Kaufmann’s research explores a new concept in innate immunity, termed "innate immune memory", or "trained immunity". Her lab studies whether allergen exposure induces long-lasting epigenetic changes in hematopoietic stem cells and innate immune cells, such as monocytes. Such epigenetic reprogramming can be a reason why asthmatic individuals experience exacerbations and are more susceptible to severe clinical trajectories of respiratory infections.

Dr. Kaufmann’s lab further investigates if childhood respiratory infections induce similar reprogramming that render the individual more susceptible to allergic sensitization and asthma. To date, it is well established that childhood respiratory infections, especially in conjunction with repeated wheezing, are linked to increased risks of subsequent asthma development. Dr. Kaufmann hypothesizes that an epigenetic memory function in the first responder cells, the innate immune cells, can be the casual link between those infections and asthma.

Conducting fundamental research on these hypotheses will help scientists and clinicians to better understand asthma pathogenesis and can ultimately lead to the development of specific immunotherapies against asthma.