SCVD Faculty

Stephen Higgs, PhD

Stephen Higgs, PhDMy research focuses on viruses transmitted by arthropods and in particular, mosquito-pathogen-vertebrate interactions. Substances secreted by the salivary glands during mosquito feeding can significantly alter cytokine profiles and have immunomodulatory effects. Dendritic cells may be recruited to the feeding site and could represent the first targeted cells for virus infection and subsequent dissemination. It has been suggested that genetically modified mosquitoes might themselves be used as immunizing agents. In collaboration with Dr. Lynn Soong, we have a NIH grant to investigate how mosquito feeding may influence the vertebrate immune system and so impact upon disease development. Our objective is to characterize these changes in the context of infections with West Nile and Dengue virus infections. Information gained has the potential to develop strategies that could be utilized to intervene in the progression of disease development, and might also identify molecules that could enhance the effectiveness/immunogenicity of vaccines.

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