Company: Scripps Research
Job title: Associate Professor
Dr. Paust is a leading authority in the field of Natural Killer (NK) cell mediated immunity. She discovered that murine and human NK cells are long-lived, and capable of immunological memory to a large variety of viral antigens and to altered self-proteins. These data give precedence to the hypothesis that NK cell-mediated effector functions can be harnessed to prevent or treat chronic infection and malignancy. Since this initial discovery, her laboratory has been leading in the development of novel vaccine and therapeutic strategies that elicit and direct host-protective memory NK cells to sites of viral entry, or replication, or at sites of malignancy. In particular, using mouse or humanized mouse models of viral infection or solid tumor, and human specimens, her laboratory identified human memory NK that mediate vaccination-dependent, antigen-specific, long-lived immune-logical recall responses, even decades after initial pathogen exposure. Her laboratory is currently elucidating how NK cell receptor expression and receptor repertoire diversity modulates NK cell differentiation, effector functions and host protection to viral infection and to solid tumor.