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Sabra L. Klein, PhD

Department Affiliations Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Rank Associate Professor
Office Phone 410-955-8898
Lab Phone 410-614-7794
Fax 410-955-0105
SOM Address W2118 Bloomberg School of Public Health Building

Klein Lab Page


Meghan Vermillion 2014

Research Interests

The primary focus of my independent research program is to determine the mechanisms that underlie sex differences in the outcome of viral infections and vaccination. Working with cell culture systems, small animal models, and most recently human clinical samples, we are uncovering the cellular and molecular pathways that differ between the sexes following infection as well as vaccination. Working predominately with influenza virus infection and vaccination, our small animal work is collectively demonstrating that: 1) females of reproductive ages suffer a worse outcome from influenza virus infection than males, a pattern that is reversed in older age; 2) females develop higher inflammatory immune responses during influenza infection than males; 3) following vaccination, females develop higher antibody responses and are better protected against influenza virus challenge than males; 4) exogenous treatment of females with physiological levels of estrogens or progesterone protect females against influenza, primarily by modifying the activity of neutrophils and T cells; and 5) exogenous treatment of either young or old males with testosterone protects against influenza by modifying signaling pathways in T cells. These observation are currently being expanded to human respiratory epithelial cells (i.e., the primary cell type infected by influenza viruses) isolated from men or women, which show sex-specific patterns of activation and chemokine production following infection with influenza viruses. Working with clinicians through the Johns Hopkins Center of Excellence in Influenza Research and Surveillance, we are identifying the correlates of protection following influenza vaccination and how these factors differ between the sexes in elderly populations.

I have over 80 peer-reviewed, have authored several book chapters and edited two book broadly pertaining to sex differences in the outcome of infection and vaccination. My research has been supported by grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Science Foundation, and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. The body of my research on sex differences and the effects of sex steroids on responses to infection and vaccination as well as my commitment to mentoring were recognized in 2010 when I received the national Society for Women’s Health Medtronic Award. Since my appointment to Assistant Professor in 2006, I have mentored 8 Master’s students, 5 PhD students, and 2 postdoctoral fellows. Since 2006, I have published 41 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 51.2% (21/41) of which were first authored by trainees in my laboratory. I am highly committed to the education and training of students and fellows.