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Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease & Immunity

Quillen College of Medicine

Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease and Immunity

Dr. Matthew Zahner receives two NIH-funded grants and is named Foundation Research Award recipient


     Drs. Zahner and LuCIIDI member Dr. Matthew Zahner has enjoyed a number of recognitions recently with awards of two NIH grants, as well as receiving the College of Public Health’s Foundation Research Award.  He was recently highlighted by news releases from the College of Public Health, where he serves as Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Sciences, and in University News. 

     The first of these releases states that, “Zahner’s first NIH Research Enhancement Award (R15) will allow him and co-investigator Dr. Eric Beaumont, professor in ETSU’s Quillen College of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical Sciences, to study the reflex response people have when they experience myocardial ischemia, or lack of blood flow and oxygen to the heart.”  Additionally, the second release explains that Dr. Zahner and his colleague, “Dr. Allan Forsman, Professor, in East Tennessee State University College of Public Health’s Department of Health Sciences, received a three-year, Academic Research Enhancement Grant for $437,335 from the National Institutes of Health to study the how the brain regulates metabolism and blood pressure.”  Dr. Yongke Lu is also a  fellow investigator for this project.

     The Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease, and Immunity warmly congratulates Dr. Matthew Zahner on his recent accomplishments.


Article Links:

College of Public Health researcher secures two NIH-funded grants

Dr. Zahner and Dr. Forsman Receive Grant from NHLIB



Dr. Zhi Qiang Yao and team publishes papers describing their telomere research


  Yao lab group   Dr. Zhi Qiang Yao, along with CIIDI student members belonging to his lab, laboratory staff, and CIIDI members Drs. Yue Zou, Mohamed El Gazzar, Shunbin Ning, Ling Wang, and Jonathan Moorman were recently published in Frontiers in Immunology and Immunity and Ageing

     The first article, “Disruption of Telomere Integrity and DNA Repair Machineries by KML001 Induces T Cell Senescence, Apoptosis, and Cellular Dysfunctions”, was published in Frontiers in Immunology. The research sheds “new insights on the T cell aging network that is critical and essential in protecting chromosomal telomeres from unwanted DNA damage and securing T cell survival during cell crisis upon genomic insult.”  The second article was published in Immunity and Ageing.  Titled “Topological DNA Damage, Telomere Attrition and T cell Senescence during Chronic Viral Infections”, the article provides “novel insights into the molecular mechanisms for immunomodulation by chronic viral infections via disrupting DNA topology to induce telomeric DNA damage, T cell senescence, apoptosis and dysfunction. As such, restoring the impaired DNA topologic machinery may offer a new strategy for maintaining T cell function against human viral diseases.”

     Dr. Yao further explains, “For many years scientists have known that chromosome ends – telomeres – shorten as people age, but no one knows why telomeres become short and how to manage the telomere loss with aging. We recently discovered that chronic viral infections, including HBV, HCV, and HIV infections, can drive premature T cell aging, as evidenced by an accelerated telomere erosion, recapitulating the hallmark aging phenotype in the elderly. Further studies focusing on the telomere biology will help us uncover the codes for immune aging and equip us with keys to open new doors towards cell aging regulation.”

     The pair of articles reveal insights into the distinct roles of telomeres in both aging and viral diseases in humans and illustrate the robust scientific advances that these scientists and students work together to contribute.


Article Links:

Disruption of Telomere Integrity and DNA Repair Machineries by KML001 Induces T Cell Senescence, Apoptosis, and Cellular Dysfunctions

Cao D, Zhao J, Nguyan LN, Nguyen LNT, Khanal S, Dang X, Schank M, Chand Thakuri BK, Wu XY, Morrison ZD, El Gazzar M, Zou Y, Ning S, Wang L, Moorman JP, Yao ZQ.

Front Immunol. 2019 May 22;10:1152. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.01152. eCollection 2019.


Topological DNA Damage, Telomere Attrition and T Cell Senescence During Chronic Viral Infections.

Ji Y, Dang X, Nguyen LNT, Nguyen LN, Zhao J, Cao D, Khanal S, Schank M, Wu XY, Morrison ZD, Zou Y, El Gazzar M, Ning S, Wang L, Moorman JP, Yao ZQ.

Immun Ageing. 2019 Jun 24;16:12. doi: 10.1186/s12979-019-0153-z. eCollection 2019.


Interprofessional Education Partnership Presented  at 2019 Nexus Summit

 workshop group photo

The Center of Excellence in Inflammation, Infectious Disease, and Immunity hosts students from the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, Pharmacy, and Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences at the HIV Center of Excellence several times each year as part of  the  ETSU  Academic Health Sciences Center’s Interprofessional Education program.  CIIDI Coordinator Joy Bohannon serves as the site coordinator  for the HIV Center of Excellence in this educational partnership.  Recently she co-presented a skills-based workshop at the 2019 Nexus Summit held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with Dr. Caroline Abercrombie and Dr. Jodi Polaha.  The workshop, Developing a Blueprint for Incorporating Clinical Environments into IPE, described the collaborative efforts that allow interprofessional learning to take place at the HIV Center of Excellence, as well as other clinical sites that participate in the IPE program at ETSU.  Participants also had the opportunity to begin creation of their own blueprint to take back to their home institutions.  In addition, the group presented a poster titled Real-World Team Training Experiences for Entry-Level IPE Students with co-authors Alicia Williams, Margaret Smith, and Dr. Brian Cross.


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