MMI News

Cell Press Trends in Immunology: The Intestinal Mucus Layer Comes of Age

The mucus layer is critical in limiting contact between host and the complex bacterial consortia that colonize the intestine. A recent paper in Cell Host and Microbe provides comprehensive insight into the dynamics of mucus layer maturation upon bacterial colonization of germ-free (GF) mice that have implications for studies on host-microbe interaction involving
colonization of GF mice.

Five Questions with: Peter Belenky
Peter Belenky is assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Brown University. He was the lead author of a recent study on the surprising complexity of antibiotic functionality in the journal Cell Reports. The paper is part of the worldwide effort to prevent the efficacy of antibiotics from descending to dangerously low levels.

Environmental Journal: Thwarting deadly bat disease the focus of Brown lab
Much of the attention has gone to the "Batlab," where researchers in the psychology department study the small mammalian creatures in flight to understand how they use sonar to avoid obstacles in their path. More recently, Brown engineers and biologists with a mutual interest in the mechanics of how bats fly so nimbly teamed up to build a robotic bat wing.

Scientists at Brown University studying fungus killing bats

Researchers in Rhode Island may be one step closer to figuring out how a mysterious disease known as white-nose syndrome is killing off bats across North America.  A team of scientists led by Brown University professor Richard Bennett was awarded more than $500,000 from the National Science Foundation to figure out how to combat the disease, named for the white fungus that appears on the noses and wings of bats.

New Strategies against rare, fatal lung syndrome

People with certain forms of the rare genetic disorder Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome face the specter of untreatable, progressive and ultimately fatal pulmonary fibrosis in their 30s or 40s. A new study in humans and mice identifies how the disease appears to work and demonstrates in mice two potential ways to affect its course.

Rhode Island Scientists Receive $500K to Study Dying Bat Populations

Rhode Island researchers have received $500,000 in federal grant money to investigate a fungus that’s killing native bats. The mysterious illness has attacked bats across North America.


Study Finds Inhibitor for COPD Lung Destruction
Newly published observations in patients and experiments in mice provide evidence that cigarette smoke reduces expression of the protein NLRX1 in the lung, taking the restraints off a destructive immune response that results in COPD. The researchers hope that pinpointing the protein’s role could lead to improved COPD risk assessment, diagnostics, and treatment.

Biron Honored with Talk at Immunology Meeting

Christine Biron, professor of medical science, is one of three people who have been invited to deliver a distinguished lecture at the American Association of Immunologists annual meeting in New Orleans this week. The meeting draws thousands of researchers from more than 40 countries.

Intimate yeast: Mating and meiosis

Mating and meiosis – the specialized cell division that reduces the number of chromosomes in a cell – are related, but in most yeasts they are regulated separately. Not so in Candida lusitaniae, where the two programs work in unison, according to a new study in Nature. Comparison with other species suggests that this fusion may support C. lusitaniae’s “haploid lifestyle” of maintaining only one set of chromosomes in each cell.

New Faculty in the MMI Department!

In the biology lab or in the art studio, creative thinking opens new pathways for exploration and learning. Microbiologist Peter Belenky has followed a path through systems biology and synthetic biology into the microbiome and an encounter with cholera-sensing, cholera-fighting yogurt bacterium.

Proliferation cues ‘natural killer’ cells for job change

Why would already abundant ‘natural killer’ cells proliferate even further after subduing an infection? It’s been a biological mystery for 30 years. But now Brown University scientists have an answer: After proliferation, the cells switch from marshaling the immune response to calming it down. The findings illuminate the functions of a critical immune system cell important for early defense against disease induced by viral infection.

Infectious fungus, thought to be asexual, isn’t

Candida tropicalis turns out to have sex, making it the second medically important member of the genus to be capable of mating. Sex may improve the survival of the species, particularly when it’s under pressure. It may also mean the species can a chieve greater virulence or drug resistance more quickly than previously thought.  

A first-year fast track to the excitement and challenge of science

In their first semester at Brown, students have had the chance to discover their own species, name it, examine  its DNA and walk the walk of real scientists. Even as the students toiled against the clock one November day, they readily took the time to praise the experience.