Dr. Nichols is interested in the etiology and pathogenesis of viral infections caused by RNA viruses. Her research mixes aspects of both virology and immunology in order to assess the impact of virus and/or host factors on the development of clinical disease, generation of the immune response and development of immune memory. To delineate the role of influenza determinants of virulence, she is evaluating viral components that influence virulence using vaccine candidate reassortants of attenuated and wild type viruses as well as manipulation of the virus genome using reverse genetics. She is interested in the role of pro-inflammatory cytokines, expression of cell surface mediators and the processes of cellular signaling on the development of clinical disease. Currently, she is assessing the role of influenza neuraminidase production/activity on the induction of apoptosis of human peripheral blood lymphocytes as well as the relationship between lymphocyte apoptosis and the development of clinical disease.