Research Focus

Dr. Singh’s research focuses on elucidating the multiple complexities of the innate immune response to intracellular respiratory pathogens such as Francisella tularensis (Ft) utilizing a murine model of pulmonary infection. Ft, the causative agent of tularemia, is a potential bioweapon due to its ease of dissemination, multiple routes of infection, and high infectivity and lethality. No licensed vaccine is available for this disease. Tularemia is characterized by the complete absence of protective pro-inflammatory responses during the first 72 h of the infection followed by a sepsis-like syndrome that results in death in 30% – 60% of cases. The mechanisms Ft uses to evade the hostile host environment and thereby develop and maintain an intracellular niche to promote its own survival is an area of active research. A better understanding of the progression of tularemia will lead to the development of better immunotherapeutic strategies to combat this deadly disease, as well as other infections caused by respiratory intracellular pathogens.

Major Research Programs

Dr. Singh’s studies have suggested a pivotal role for lipid mediators in the modulation of the immune responses against Ft infection. Ft infection induces the production of lipoxin A4 early during infection which contributes to the establishment of an anti-inflammatory milieu in the lungs.

The bacteria multiply exponentially in this permissive environment, reaching enormous numbers, due in part to a complete absence of protective pro-inflammatory responses. There is delayed programmed cell death or apoptosis (lipoxin A4 plays role in modulating cell death), which progresses into secondary necrosis resulting in extensive tissue damage and triggering of a sepsis-like syndrome during the late phase of disease. Dr. Singh’s ongoing focus is to identify and characterize the mechanisms intracellular pathogens utilize to manipulate host cells using a combination of immunological, molecular, and proteomics approach. This will allow us to identify novel targets for Ft and other intracellular pathogens and will lead us to develop new and effective therapeutic/vaccinal strategies.

Recently, Dr. Singh has also expanded her interests to include innate immune responses to Zika virus infection in a murine model of central nervous system disease following intracranial infection. Current research efforts are focused on better understanding the mechanisms of cell death observed in the brain cells infected with different strains of the Zika virus.


Anju Singh, Ph.D.

Associate Research Biologist, Department of Infectious Disease

Anju Singh joined Southern Research’s Drug Discovery division in 2015 as an associate research biologist. Her research interests are focused in the fields of infectious diseases and immunology. She has extensive experience working under Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) containment conditions with virulent pathogens such as Mycobacterium tuberculosisand Francisella tularensis. Singh is particularly interested in: elucidating the mechanisms involved in host-pathogen interactions and the development of innate immunity; and discovering targets for early therapeutic intervention against various intracellular bacterial respiratory diseases[ Read Full Bio Here ]

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