- Professor, Department of Surgery - Section of Transplantation Surgery, Committee on Immunology, Committee on Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition
Ph.D., Australian National University, 1985
The University of Chicago
SBRI J547/MC 5026
5841 South Maryland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: (773) 702-5521
Website (Department of Surgery)
A primary area of research in the Chong laboratory is to understand how the immune system becomes tolerant to an allogeneic transplanted organ. The possibility that tolerance to a transplanted organ can be induced in humans is tremendously attractive, as it would obviate the need for expensive life-long pharmacological immunosuppression. However, despite the numerous successes in inducing tolerance in rodent transplant models, transplant tolerance in humans remains an elusive goal. My laboratory is investigating the mechanisms by which infections prevent the induction and maintenance of tolerance, and defining approaches that can diagnose the quality of tolerance and therapeutic approaches that stabilize established tolerance. We are particularly interested in the impact of bacterial infections on transplantation tolerance. As an extension of this project, we have an ongoing collaboration with Drs. Robert Daum and Christopher Montgomery to investigate the basis of protective immunity to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection.
A second area of investigation stems from the clinical observation that the presence of graft-reactive antibodies is a barrier to long-term graft acceptance. Thus, for transplantation to realize its full potential, the ability to prevent primary B cells responses and the reactivation of memory allo-specific B cell responses after transplantation is key. My laboratory has recently developed ways to track endogenous alloreactive B cells and we are actively working to define the molecular mechanism by which alloreactive B cell are regulated during a primary or secondary encounter with allografts, and how these B cells can be made tolerant.
A third research area focuses on issues related to the application of nanomaterials for vaccines. In collaboration with a bioengineer in the Department of Surgery, Dr. Joel Collier, we are investigating how self-assembling peptide nanofibers are able to elicit strong antibody and T cells to antigenic peptides and proteins without the need for adjuvants or local inflammation. We are testing the hypothesis that antigen presented on a nanofibers signal in a unique way in antigen-presenting cells and B cells that can be utilized to enhance vaccine efficacy in a manner distinct from conventional adjuvants.