Director of Pre-Pharmacy Program, Associate Professor
- Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University at Albany
- B.Sc., Biotechnology, Rochester Institute of Technology
COURSES TAUGHT AT ACPHS
- Biomedical Laboratory Techniques I & II
- Flow Cytometry
Research in my laboratory is focused on the pathogenesis of, and host defense against, human enveloped RNA viruses. Several notable human diseases are caused by enveloped RNA viruses: influenza, AIDS, hepatitis C, dengue hemorrhagic fever, congenital Zika syndrome, and COVID-19. Novel insights into the relationship between viruses and human cells has the potential to lead to improved therapeutics and vaccines against these diseases. Currently, my team of undergraduate and graduate students are following these avenues of research:
- Role of host lipid biosynthesis in RNA virus infection. Viruses are obligatory intracellular parasites that hijack cellular factors and biosynthetic pathways to complete their life cycle. Emerging studies have revealed the importance of virus-host lipid interactions in the life cycle of several clinically important human RNA viruses. Specifically, viruses can target lipid metabolism, signaling, and trafficking to remodel host cells into an environment favorable for viral replication. Data from collaborative studies with Dr. Kouacou Konan (Albany Medical College) have revealed that the production of infectious influenza and Zika virus particles is dependent on host glycosphingolipid biosynthesis. Elucidating the impact of viral infection on the regulation of glycosphingolipid metabolism and identifying biosynthetic enzymes and metabolites critical for various stages viral life cycle may result in the development of antiviral therapies targeting these, and perhaps additional, human enveloped RNA viruses.
- Molecular Regulation of inflammation during influenza virus infection. The body’s innate immune system is critical for the rapid control of pulmonary influenza infection as well as the induction of protective T cell and B cell immune responses. Innate immune cells express a collection of molecular “sensors” that allow them to detect influenza viruses early during infection. The cytoplasmic NLRP3 inflammasome complex triggers the production of the inflammatory cytokines interleukin 1-β (IL-1β) and interleukin 18 (IL-18) after sensing the virus. Several reports support that timely NLRP3 inflammasome activity is critical for antiviral immunity, whereas other reports have linked excessive NLRP3 inflammasome activity with cell death and tissue damage observed during infection by highly pathogenic strains of flu. Recent studies have identified small molecules (pyrin-only proteins or POPs) that are capable of modulating inflammasome activity in humans. Studies focused on the expression and function of POPs during human influenza virus infection will aid our understanding of the regulatory mechanisms that finely tune inflammatory responses to favor protection over pathology.
- Impact of aging on anti-viral immunity. It is estimated that by 2030, nearly one of out every five Americans will be 65 years or older. Such a dramatic increase in the size of the aged population poses new challenges to the U.S. healthcare system as aged individuals exhibit increased susceptibility to infectious disease and are less responsive to contemporary vaccine strategies. We are interested in understanding the intrinsic and extrinsic factors responsible for age-related changes in anti-viral immunity. Data from my postdoctoral studies showed that the naturally occurring contraction of the naïve T cell repertoire can result in impaired CD8 T cell responses to known immunodominant epitopes critical for protection against influenza virus infection. These data have implications for the design of vaccines for the elderly. Since aging is associated with diminished innate immunity, chronic inflammation, and an increased susceptibility to viral infection, our current studies are directed towards evaluating the impact of biological aging on the ability of the NLRP3 inflammasome to properly regulate inflammation and host defense. Results from these studies have the potential to facilitate the identification of new drug targets for the effective treatment of chronic inflammation, and/or the development of vaccination strategies to augment immunity and restore health in the rapidly growing elderly population.
HONORS & AWARDS
- Organizer, 53rd Annual Regional Meeting, American Society for Microbiology, October 16, 2018
- President, Eastern New York Branch of the American Society for Microbiology, 2017-2019
- AAI Early Career Faculty Travel Grant, 2015
- AAI Young Investigator Award, 2014
- Yager EJ. Antibody-dependent enhancement and COVID-19: Moving toward acquittal. Clin Immunol. 2020;217:108496.
- Yager EJ, Doll MK. Towards Understanding the Health and Economic Impacts of Quadrivalent and Trivalent Inactivated Vaccines Against Influenza B Infection: Additional Considerations for Future Cost-Benefit Analyses. [Letter to the Editor, published online ahead of print, 2020 Mar 23]. Clin Infect Dis. 2020;ciaa309.
- Yager EJ, Konan KV. Sphingolipids as Potential Therapeutic Targets against Enveloped Human RNA Viruses. Viruses. 2019;11(10):912. Published 2019 Oct 1.
- Califano D, Sweeney KJ, Le H, VanValkenburgh J, Yager E, O'Connor W Jr, Kennedy JS, Jones DM, Avram Diverting T helper cell trafficking through increased plasticity attenuates autoimmune encephalomyelitis. J Clin Invest. 2014;124(1):174-187.
- Yager EJ, Stagnar C, Gopalakrishnan R, Fuller JT, Fuller DH. Optimizing particle-mediated epidermal delivery of an influenza DNA vaccine in ferrets. Methods Mol Biol. 2013; 940:223-237.
- Mathew A, Lindsley TA, Sheridan A, Bhoiwala DL, Hushmendy SF, Yager EJ, Ruggiero EA, Crawford DR. Degraded mitochondrial DNA is a newly identified subtype of the damage associated molecular pattern (DAMP) family and possible trigger of neurodegeneration. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;30(3):617-627.
- Fuller DH, Rajakumar P, Che JW, Narendran A, Nyaundi J, Michael H, Yager EJ, Stagnar C, Wahlberg B, Taber R, Haynes JR, Cook FC, Ertl P, Tite J, Amedee AM, Murphey-Corb M. Therapeutic DNA vaccine induces broad T cell responses in the gut and sustained protection from viral rebound and AIDS in SIV-infected rhesus macaques. PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e33715.
- Freeman ML, Burkum CE, Yager EJ, Woodland DL, Blackman MA. De novo infection of B cells during murine gammaherpesvirus 68 latency. J Virol. 2011;85(20):10920-10925.
- Kohlmeier JE, Reiley WW, Perona-Wright G, Freeman ML, Yager EJ, Connor LM, Brincks EL, Cookenham T, Roberts AD, Burkum CE, Sell S, Winslow GM, Blackman MA, Mohrs M, Woodland DL. Chemokine receptors regulate CD8(+) T cell contraction and memory generation following infection. J Exp Med. 2011;208(8):1621-1634.
- Yager EJ, Stagnar C, Gopalakrishnan R, Franchini A, Narendran A, Fuller JT, Fuller DH. Particle-mediated DNA vaccines against seasonal and pandemic influenza viruses elicit strong mucosal antibody and T cell responses in the lung. Procedia in Vaccinology. 2010; 3:2-11.
- Loudon P.T., Yager EJ, Lynch DT, Narendran A, Stagnar C, Franchini AM, Fuller JT, White PA, Nyaundi J, Wiley CA, Murphey-Corb M, Fuller DH. GM-CSF increases mucosal and systemic immunogenicity of an H1N1 influenza DNA vaccine administered into the epidermis of non-human primates. PLoS One. 2010;5(6):e11021. Published 2010 Jun 8.
- Yager EJ, Kim IJ, Freeman ML, Lanzer KG, Burkum CE, Cookenham T, Woodland DL, Blackman MA. Differential impact of ageing on cellular and humoral immunity to a persistent murine gamma-herpesvirus. Immun Ageing. 2010;7:3. Published 2010 Feb 2.
- Yager EJ, Dean HJ, Fuller DH. Prospects for developing an effective particle-mediated DNA vaccine against influenza. Expert Rev Vaccines. 2009;8(9):1205-1220.
- Yager EJ, Szaba FM, Kummer LW, Lanzer KG, Burkum CE, Smiley ST, Blackman MA. gamma-Herpesvirus-induced protection against bacterial infection is transient. Viral Immunol. 2009;22(1):67-72.
- Maue AC, Yager EJ, Swain SL, Woodland DL, Blackman MA, Haynes L. T-cell immunosenescence: lessons learned from mouse models of aging. Trends Immunol. 2009;30(7):301-305.
- Ahmed M, Lanzer KG, Yager EJ, Adams PS, Johnson LL, Blackman MA. Clonal expansions and loss of receptor diversity in the naive CD8 T cell repertoire of aged mice. J Immunol. 2009;182(2):784-792.
- Yager EJ, Ahmed M, Lanzer K, Randall TD, Woodland DL, Blackman MA. Age-associated decline in T cell repertoire diversity leads to holes in the repertoire and impaired immunity to influenza virus. J Exp Med. 2008;205(3):711-723.
CONFERENCES AND PRESENTATIONS
Yager E. “Epidemic” Engagement: Infecting an Immersive Online Virology Course with Gamification. Magna Teaching with Technology Conference, St. Louis MO, October 5-7, 2018 (presented with Tammy Garren).
Yager E. Educational and Instructional Approaches. Panel presentation with Michelle Parent, Anna McLoon, and Kelly Hallstrom, 53rd Regional American Society for Microbiology meeting, Albany NY, October 16, 2018.