Research in the Marine Immunology Program is focused on basic and applied research on the health and immune systems of marine vertebrates. Animal species studied include cartilaginous fishes (sharks, skates, and rays), marine mammals, and sea turtles. Basic immunological research with marine species contributes to a better understanding of how the immune systems of different species function and may lead to important and groundbreaking insights into the evolution of human immunology, as well as possible benefit for human health. The Marine Immunology Program’s applied research studies are providing new knowledge about how certain environmental stressors, such as red tide, affect the immune health of marine species. This research is critical for endangered and threatened species like manatees and sea turtles because reduced immune function can affect a species’ overall ability to survive and reproduce in the wild. Current research projects include studies on cytotoxic factors produced by cells of the shark immune systems, effects of red tide on health of manatees and turtles, and development of cell lines from shrimp and marine teleost species. Dr. Walsh also coordinates Mote’s NSF REU program.

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