Gregory David Sempowski, PhD

Professor in Medicine
Professor of Pathology
Member of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute
Campus mail 909 S. Lasalle St, Rm 1005 Global Health Research Building,, Durham, NC 27705
Phone (919) 684-4386
Email address greg.sempowski@duke.edu

The laboratory of Gregory Sempowski, PhD studies immune senescence associated with aging.  Immune senescence is the gradual deterioration of the immune system due to natural age.  The Sempowski lab is primarily focused on developing strategies to enhance T cell reconstitution to offset thymic immune depletion due to immunodeficiency associated with aging, stress, or illness. The thymus plays an important role in maintaining the peripheral T cell pool in children and adults. As the thymus gets smaller with age, it produces significantly lower amounts of T cells resulting in an overall reduced immune response in older individuals. Currently, there are no treatments available to protect against aging, stress or illness-related thymic atrophy or accelerate recovery, thus leaving the immune system compromised. 

The Sempowski group is working to define the mechanisms that drive thymic involution and find ways of blocking or reversing thymic involution in order to enhance host response in at-risk populations against potential natural or man-made biothreats. The lab has identified the IL-6 cytokine gene family (i.e., leukemia inhibitory factor, IL-6, and oncostatin M) as thymosuppressive agents by the observation that they can acutely involute the thymus when injected into a young, healthy mouse. They also have identified leptin as a novel, thymostimulatory agent that can protect against stress-induced acute thymic atrophy. Identified hormones, cytokines and inhibitors of cytokine receptors are being tested as possible strategies to stimulate thymopoiesis and T cell reconstitution in mouse models of vaccination and infectious challenge.

DHVI Shared Resources 
Dr. Gregory Sempowski is Scientific Director for all DHVi Shared Resources and specifically oversees the DHVI Flow Facility and the collaborative research resources in the NIAID-Regional Biocontainment Laboratory at Duke (RBL).   The RBL offers services in the areas of Bacteriology, Virology and Immunology to DHVI and Duke Investigators and their collaborators, and to researchers within the Research Triangle community. Specific services include:  training in BSL3/ABSL3 and SA work, use of the containment environments, maintenance of pathogen inventories and propagation and QC of pathogen stocks for in vitro and in vivo studies.  In addition the three Core Units provide a menu of support assay such as CFU, viral load, neutralization and animal challenge models.  We are currently providing qualified animal models for pulmonary tuberculosis, bubonic plague, pneumonic plague, West Nile Virus infection, cryptococcosis, tularemia, and Yellow Fever.  These animal models are currently used to support NIAID-funded research for investigators at Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, Harvard University, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Education and Training

  • Ph.D., University of Rochester, 1996

Publications

Junkins, RD, Gallovic, MD, Johnson, BM, Collier, MA, Watkins-Schulz, R, Cheng, N, David, CN, McGee, CE, Sempowski, GD, Shterev, I, McKinnon, K, Bachelder, EM, Ainslie, KM, and Ting, JP-Y. "A robust microparticle platform for a STING-targeted adjuvant that enhances both humoral and cellular immunity during vaccination." November 20, 2017.

PMID
29170142
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Xiao, S, Shterev, ID, Zhang, W, Young, L, Shieh, J-H, Moore, M, van den Brink, M, Sempowski, GD, and Manley, NR. "Sublethal Total Body Irradiation Causes Long-Term Deficits in Thymus Function by Reducing Lymphoid Progenitors." Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) 199, no. 8 (October 2017): 2701-2712.

PMID
28931604
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Netzer, C, Knape, T, Kuchler, L, Weigert, A, Zacharowski, K, Pfeilschifter, W, Sempowski, G, Parnham, MJ, Brüne, B, and von Knethen, A. "Apoptotic Diminution of Immature Single and Double Positive Thymocyte Subpopulations Contributes to Thymus Involution During Murine Polymicrobial Sepsis." SHOCK 48, no. 2 (August 2017): 215-226.

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Ito, R, Hale, LP, Geyer, SM, Li, J, Sornborger, A, Kajimura, J, Kusunoki, Y, Yoshida, K, van den Brink, MRM, Kyoizumi, S, Manley, NR, Nakachi, K, and Sempowski, GD. "Late Effects of Exposure to Ionizing Radiation and Age on Human Thymus Morphology and Function." Radiation research 187, no. 5 (May 2017): 589-598.

PMID
28319462
Full Text

Pardi, N, Hogan, MJ, Pelc, RS, Muramatsu, H, Andersen, H, DeMaso, CR, Dowd, KA, Sutherland, LL, Scearce, RM, Parks, R, Wagner, W, Granados, A, Greenhouse, J, Walker, M, Willis, E, Yu, J-S, McGee, CE, Sempowski, GD, Mui, BL, Tam, YK, Huang, Y-J, Vanlandingham, D, Holmes, VM, Balachandran, H, Sahu, S, Lifton, M, Higgs, S, Hensley, SE, Madden, TD, Hope, MJ, Karikó, K, Santra, S, Graham, BS, Lewis, MG, Pierson, TC, Haynes, BF, and Weissman, D. "Zika virus protection by a single low-dose nucleoside-modified mRNA vaccination." Nature 543, no. 7644 (March 2017): 248-251.

PMID
28151488
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Linz, BML, Neely, CJ, Kartchner, LB, Mendoza, AE, Khoury, AL, Truax, A, Sempowski, G, Eitas, T, Brickey, J, Ting, JPY, Cairns, BA, and Maile, R. "Innate Immune Cell Recovery Is Positively Regulated by NLRP12 during Emergency Hematopoiesis." Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) 198, no. 6 (March 2017): 2426-2433.

PMID
28159904
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Thome, JJC, Grinshpun, B, Kumar, BV, Kubota, M, Ohmura, Y, Lerner, H, Sempowski, GD, Shen, Y, and Farber, DL. "Longterm maintenance of human naive T cells through in situ homeostasis in lymphoid tissue sites." Science immunology 1, no. 6 (December 2, 2016).

PMID
28361127
Full Text

Kajimura, J, Lynch, HE, Geyer, S, Yamaoka, M, Shterev, I, Kyoizumi, S, Sempowski, GD, Nakachi, K, and Kusunoki, Y. "Effect of past radiation exposure on the circulating dendritic cell populations in A-bomb survivors." August 2016.

Scholars@Duke

Jones, DI, McGee, CE, Sample, CJ, Sempowski, GD, Pickup, DJ, and Staats, HF. "Modified Vaccinia Ankara Virus Vaccination Provides Long-Term Protection against Nasal Rabbitpox Virus Challenge." Clinical and vaccine immunology : CVI 23, no. 7 (July 2016): 648-651.

PMID
27146001
Full Text

Alderman, TS, Stiegel, MA, Estes, RA, Thomann, WR, and Sempowski, GD. "Field-Testing Method for Loose-Fitting Powered Air-Purifying Respirators Equipped with HEPA Filters." Applied Biosafety 21, no. 2 (June 2016): 71-78.

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