My laboratory research focus is on mucosal immunology in food animals infected with infectious and zoonotic diseases. Currently, mucosal delivery of vaccines is gaining increased attention due to its ability to improve cross-protective immunity against RNA viruses and mucosal pathogens. We are trying to develop innovative biodegradable and biocompatible polymer-based nanoparticle vaccine delivery platforms to administer and target vaccine antigens efficiently to immune cells at mucosal sites. In animals vaccinated through intranasal and oral route, we are interested in understanding the immune correlates of protection, and efficacy analysis following respective viral or bacterial challenge infection.
Particularly, we are focusing on improving the efficacy of inactivated whole pathogen and subunit vaccine antigens of influenza virus and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus delivered intranasal in pigs, and Salmonella subunit vaccines delivered orally through drinking water in poultry. We are also evaluating immune modulators, bacterial-based and synthetic adjuvants, different polymers-based vaccine carriers targeting toll-like receptors in mucosal immune inductive sites of food animals and poultry. Currently, the lab is investigating the nanoparticle-based SARS-CoV2 subunit vaccine candidates in ferret and pig models for determining the efficacy and immunogenicity, respectively.
Broad areas of research include understanding the host pathogen interactions, microbial pathogenesis, developing pig model to reveal the influence of human microbiome on vaccines and diseases, and understanding immune evasion mechanisms in food animals infected with viral and bacterial pathogens. Other focus of research in the laboratory is on developing large animal models for biomedical, preclinical research in the areas of both infectious and non-infectious diseases to improve human health. Dr. Gourapura is leading a collaborative team of scientists at USDA research facilities in Maryland and Iowa and Dr. Kenney from CFAH, in developing new swine immune reagents and their evaluation through functional and phenotypic analysis.