Braciale, Thomas J.

Thomas J. Braciale

Thomas J. Braciale

Primary Appointment

Professor, Pathology


  • BS, Biology, St. Joseph's College, Philadelphia, PA
  • MD, Medicine and Immunology, Univ. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  • PhD, Medicine and Immunology, Univ. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  • Residency, Pathology, Barnes Hospital (Washington Univ.) St. Louis, MO
  • Postdoc, Immunology and Virology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Contact Information

Telephone: 924-9233

Research Interests

T Lymphocyte Responses To Virus Infection

Research Description

My laboratory is interested in the host immune response to virus infection - specifically,

we study the role of the adaptive immune response in the clearance of both virus

and virus-infected cells from the body, and the contribution of the immune response

in producing injury during virus infection. Much of our work focuses on infection

of the respiratory tract (the lungs) by two viruses: Influenza virus and Respiratory

Syncytial Virus (RSV).

Our research on Influenza focuses on the response of CD8+ T lymphocytes --

Cytolytic T Lymphocytes (CTL) or killer T cells -- to Influenza infection. We

want to understand three main things: 1) how CTL are generated during infection;

2) how CD8+ T cells interact with the principal antigen presenting cells of

the body (i.e. dendritic cells) to produce those CTL; and 3) how the interplay

between Influenza virus and the CTL response contributes to lung injury during

infection. We use modern techniques of cell and molecular biology -- including

T cell receptor transgenic murine models and virus reverse genetics (to alter

the structure of the Influenza genome) in order to understand how specific virus

genes (and their products), as well as CTL products (e.g. cytokines) operate

to clear infection and/or produce disease. Recently, we have extended this work

to include avian influenza virus ("Bird Flu") infection in order to

define the mechanisms of lethal infection produced by this virus.

The second virus that we study, RSV, is a major cause of severe lung infection

in young infants; and there is currently no safe vaccine for this virus. Immunization

with conventional RSV vaccines (e.g. killed virus) results in more severe injury

after subsequent natural RSV infection (when compared to natural infection alone).

Thus, RSV can induce immune-mediated disease, and can inhibit the normal immune

response. Our research in this area is aimed at understanding how this virus

can dysregulate the immune response; so safe and effective vaccines can be developed.

In addition to our work in Influenza and RSV, our laboratory has also become

involved in Bio-Defense research. Our current project is aimed at the development

of new vaccines against the small pox virus when delivered as a weapon of bio-terrorism.

We are employing a murine model of small pox infection using the murine equivalent

of the virus (i.e. ectromelia or mouse pox virus). We are using innovative methods

to clone and express genes from vaccinia virus (the pox virus used to vaccinate

humans against small pox) to identify candidate proteins which could serve as

the basis for vaccines directed against small pox infection.

Selected Publications