Heather Hickman, Ph.D.
Laboratory of Clinical Immunology and Microbiology
Generating protective antiviral immunity is a complex process that begins at the infection or vaccination site, amplifies in the regional draining lymph node, and culminates in the prevention or resolution of tissue infection. Rationally designed vaccines are based on maximizing beneficial cellular and humoral responses while minimizing overly zealous reactions causing host pathology.
To fully harness the power of the immune response, it is critical to understand not only the effector functions of lymphocytes, but also the anatomy of immune responses leading to host protection. For instance, the precise location of leukocytes in the skin determines whether permissive cells are accessible to vector-borne viruses; likewise, intradermal vaccines can be transported to the draining lymph node by skin-resident cells. Inside the lymph node, T-cells are primed in distinct microenvironments in processes that are incompletely understood. In peripheral tissues, little is known concerning the precise location and movement of immune effectors, including those of virus-specific T-cells or B-cells. The goal of the Immunity and Pathogenesis Unit is to generate a detailed understanding of immunity to viral infection and vaccination in lymphoid and peripheral tissues, with an emphasis on the role of the anatomy on immunity.
Dr. Heather Hickman received her Ph.D. (Microbiology and Immunology) from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in 2003. While training in the lab of Dr. William Hildebrand, she investigated the presentation of viral ligands by major histocompatibility class I molecules. In 2004, she joined the Laboratory of Viral Diseases (LVD) (NIAID), first as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Jonathan Yewdell and later as a senior associate scientist. In the LVD, Dr. Hickman developed a research program aimed at better defining the mechanisms of adaptive immunity to viral infections using a number of different viruses as models (such as vaccinia, Zika, and influenza). Dr. Hickman became an Earl-Stadtman tenure-track investigator in the Viral Immunity and Pathogenesis Unit in 2017.
- Shannon JP, Vrba SM, Reynoso GV, Wynne-Jones E, Kamenyeva O, Malo CS, Cherry CR, McManus DT, Hickman HD. Group 1 innate lymphoid-cell-derived interferon-γ maintains anti-viral vigilance in the mucosal epithelium. Immunity. 2021;54(2):276-290.e5.
- Reynoso GV, Weisberg AS, Shannon JP, McManus DT, Shores L, Americo JL, Stan RV, Yewdell JW, Hickman HD. Lymph node conduits transport virions for rapid T cell activation. Nat Immunol. 2019;20(5):602-612.
- Reynoso GV, Gordon DN, Kalia A, Aguilar CC, Malo CS, Aleshnick M, Dowd KA, Cherry CR, Shannon JP, Vrba SM, Holmes AC, Alippe Y, Maciejewski S, Asano K, Diamond MS, Pierson TC, Hickman HD. Zika virus spreads through infection of lymph node-resident macrophages. Cell Rep. 2023;42(2):112126.
- Kalia A, Hickman HD. A vaccine sanctuary in the lymph node. Science. 2023;379(6630):332-333.
- Vrba SM, Hickman HD. Imaging viral infection in vivo to gain unique perspectives on cellular antiviral immunity. Immunol Rev. 2022;306(1):200-217.
Related Scientific Focus Areas
Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
This page was last updated on Thursday, August 17, 2023