CURES Seminar: Environmental influences on antiviral immunity

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December 7, 2023
12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Integrative Biosciences Center Seminar Room
6135 Woodward Ave.
Detroit , MI 48202
Zoom link to be emailed to registrants
Event category: Seminar
RSVP is closed.

Please join Wayne State University's Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors (CURES) for their upcoming hybrid seminar on December 7, 2023 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The seminar is free. The seminar will be held in person at the Integrative Biosciences Center located at 6135 Woodward, and also via Zoom. The Zoom information will be emailed to all registrants. 

The guest speaker will be B. Paige Lawrence, Ph.D., the Wright Family Research Professor and Chair of Environmental Medicine, and Director of the Rochester Environmental Health Science Center at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Dr. Lawrence will present, Environmental influences on antiviral immunity. 


There is considerable evidence that the environment we live in, the foods we consume, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and perhaps even what our parents and grandparents experienced, influences our health and contributes to disease. Yet, how environmental factors do this is largely a mystery. This creates tremendous uncertainties; for example, we do not understand why, during a viral outbreak, some individuals become extremely ill, while others do not. Recent studies of an environment-sensing transcription factor called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) provide clues about how environmental exposures influence the immune system. For instance, in human population studies, pollutants that bind AHR are associated with poorer responses to immunizations and increased incidence or severity of infection. Using mouse models, we are delineating cellular level root causes of AHR-mediated variation in antiviral immune defenses. Using conditional knockout mice, bone marrow transplantation, and adoptive transfers, we have identified critical changes that are due to direct effects in specific types of immune cells, while other effects are indirect, reflecting alterations to intercellular communication. To determine causal mechanisms, we combine multidimensional flow cytometry, next generation RNA-sequencing, and whole genome assessments of DNA methylation. These approaches, combined with functional studies, have yielded exciting new information about the cellular pathways regulated by AHR signaling. Ongoing studies seek to discover mechanisms by which AHR signaling produces durable changes in immune cell functional capacity, which provide new insights into approaches to modify immune responses and improve health. 


B. Paige Lawrence received her PhD in Biochemistry, Molecular & Cell Biology from Cornell University. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Oregon State University, she was a member of the faculty at Washington State University, where she obtained tenure. She has been at the University of Rochester since 2006, where she is an endowed professorship in Environmental Medicine and also professor of Microbiology & Immunology. Since 2017, she has been the Chair of the Department of Environmental Medicine and Director of the NIEHS-funded Rochester Environmental Health Science Center. In Jan 2023, she became the inaugural director of the new University of Rochester Institute for Human Health and the Environment.

Her research focuses primarily on determining how environmental signals influence the immune system. She and her research team are uncovering how early life exposures shape the way the immune system develops and functions later in life, and across generations. This research

combines immunology, toxicology, cell and molecular biology, and integrates in vivo, in vitro, and in silico tools, that encompass mouse models and human populations.

She has served on numerous review panels and advisory committees for governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations. She is Deputy Editor of Environmental Health Perspectives, and an Associate Editor for Toxicological Sciences. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences. She is active in the Society of Toxicology, and over the years has held numerous positions. She has also chaired and served on organizational committees for international scientific conferences, and in advisory roles for several research, policy, and educational programs in the USA and Europe.

In addition to a passion for science, she has unwavering devotion to promoting excellence in education and mentor programs, and commitment to improving diversity, inclusion, equity and community. Throughout her career, she has been actively engaged in learning about, developing, and using new strategies to improve recruitment, retention, mentoring and career advancement, and fostering a culture of mutual respect, ally-ship, and advocating for others. 

December 2023