The Fooksman laboratory is interested in various aspects of normal and malignant plasma cell physiology. Plasma cells are terminally-differentiated B cells that secrete antibody, constitutively. These cells are produced following vaccination or exposures to infection and produce antibody that specifically targets and neutralizes these foreign agents. Plasma cells can survive for decades in the body, particularly those that migrate to the bone marrow. By surviving and producing antibody, these cells can provide long-term immune memory against secondary infections. These cells are critical for healthy immune function and the essential end product for vaccines. Therefore, we are interested in how these cells develop, migrate, survive and function.
Plasma cells can also be pathological in various diseases including cancer. One notable example is in patients with Multiple Myeloma, a plasma cell tumor that also migrates to the bone marrow. Currently, there are no cures for this cancer and treatments have strong side effects. We would like to understand how the tumor spreads and interacts with the bone marrow microenvironment to develop better treatments.
In addition, we apply in vivo imaging to visualize and understand the cellular processes n real-time in situ, during infections, autoimmunity, other cancers and hematopoiesis in the bone marrow.