Consolidated Researcher Details:
Observing the extent of phenotypic variation among individuals that occurs even within a given species (e.g. humans) surprises me every day. Susceptibility to disease is one of the areas where we can observe the largest extents of individual variation. Realizing this variation immediately raises the question of the underlying causes and mechanisms, given that most individuals in a species are largely identical in their genes.
I find it extremely gratifying to be able to follow my curiosity and explore these questions in a professional manner. And it is even more fulfilling if the gathered insights improve our understanding of diseases specifically and help advance the scientific knowledge of humanity in general.
Variation in susceptibility to disease is largely driven by variation in the regulation and efficiency of the immune system. It is well known that these factors are affected by both environment and genetic makeup of an individual. I am particularly interested in understanding how changing environments (including pathogens) contribute to the evolution of genetic variability in immune-relevant pathways (particularly the MHC system of the adaptive immune system), and how this variation is constrained by the requirement for self-tolerance (preventing autoimmunity).