Research Interests

Dr. Yuan’s lab studies the interactions between enteric viruses and the host immune system. The lab's research interests are focused on pathogenesis and innate and adaptive immune responses induced by enteric viruses (i.e. norovirus and rotavirus) and on the development of safer and more effective vaccines against viral gastroenteritis.

One of the research efforts of the Yuan lab is to study mechanisms of immune modulation by probiotic bacteria in rotavirus infection and vaccination. These studies utilize wildtype, gene knock-out and conventionalized gnotobiotic pig models of human rotavirus infection and diseases and IPEC-J2 cell culture model of rotavirus infection.

Dr. Yuan has a long-standing interest in human rotavirus vaccines. She has studied intestinal and systemic B and T cell immune responses induced by various rotavirus vaccines and their protective efficacy against rotavirus diarrhea. These studies have included attenuated, reassortant, inactivated, recombinant protein, DNA plasmid, and virus-like particle vaccines, with different adjuvants (Alum, LT-R192G, ISCOM, and probiotics) and immunization routes (oral, intramuscular, intranasal, intradermal by gene gun) with or without maternal immunomodulators (antibodies and cytokines). Currently, the Yuan lab is evaluating the viral protein-specific immune responses to a live oral trivalent reassortant rotavirus vaccine to identify the determinants of heterotypic protective immunity.

Another research area in the Yuan lab is to establish a reliable gnotobiotic pig challenge model of currently circulating human noroviruses and to use the animal model to evaluate the safety, immunogenicity, protective efficacy and broadness of protection of human norovirus vaccines. The animal model can also be used to evaluate potential anti-viral drugs and norovirus inactivation approaches.

Dr. Yuan's research projects are funded by National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (R01AT004789) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (R01AI089634 subcontract), National Institutes of Health, US, and Lanzhou Institute of Biological Products, PR China.