Joseph Bliss, MD, PhD
Dr. Joseph Bliss’ laboratory studies the fungal pathogen, Candida albicans, and the role of antibody in host defense against this organism. Although the importance of cell-mediated immunity is well known, there is increasing evidence supporting a role for antibody in defense against Candida infections. Dr. Bliss’ current work involves monoclonal antibody fragments directed against surface determinants of the organism that have been recently isolated and characterized. Current emphasis involves the identification of the cognate antigens recognized by these antibodies and the development of assays to evaluate their capacity to augment damage to the fungus by host effector mechanisms.
The premature neonate is at particularly high risk for developing serious infections with Candida, and these infections carry a significant rate of mortality. The susceptibility of this population is due in part to the immaturity in the immune function of these patients. The mechanisms by which the neonate defends against fungal infection and the specific deficiencies that increase risk are poorly understood. Dr. Bliss and his colleagues will use the antibodies and assays that are currently being developed to investigate the development of immunity in the neonate and potentially develop novel immunotherapies for these patients at risk.