Dr. Suniti Bhaumik obtained her Ph.D. in Immunology from the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, India, on developing a DNA vaccine and dendritic cell-based hybrid cell vaccine against Leishmaniasis. She completed her post-doctoral training in neonatology and mucosal immunology in Dr. Casey Weaver's lab at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Bhaumik studied the role of proinflammatory cytokine-IL-1b in the development of Th17 cells in the intestine, where gut resident dendritic cells (DCs) produce abundant amounts of retinoic acid, a suppressor of Th17 development. The fundamental nature of this finding is relevant to the emerging field of autoimmune diseases and cancer immunotherapy, where manipulation of Treg function (Treg plasticity or Treg fragility) is a viable treatment option.

A significant focus of Dr. Bhaumik's research as a staff scientist was the development and function of effector and regulatory CD4+ T cell subsets (Treg) during chronic colitis. Her finding demonstrated that despite being the master transcription factor for Th17 cells, RORgt regulates the suppressor function of colonic Tregs to prevent chronic colitis. She also studied the mechanism of gut-brain interaction during inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) by examining how proinflammatory CD4+T cells travel to the brain, causing inflammation in the CNS and neuropathology.

Research Statement

Ph.D. research: To formulate a DNA-based vaccine strategy against both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant forms of Leishmania donovani, Dr. Bhaumik cloned a membrane protein of the parasite KMP-11 in a mammalian expression vector and tested both the prophylactic and therapeutic efficacy of the DNA vaccine in murine and hamster models. Furthermore, to increase the therapeutic efficacy of the DNA vaccine, she developed a Dendritic Cell-based Hybrid cell vaccine (HCV), where KMP-11 DNA transfected macrophages were electro-fused with allogenic DCs to increase the MHC-class I restricted cytotoxic lymphocyte (CTL) response. She tested the therapeutic effect of HCV in the clearance of parasites from the spleen and liver of infected animals.

Post-doctoral research: Dr. Bhaumik investigated why preterm babies are susceptible to infections. The neonatal CD4+ T cell compartment contains a high frequency of recent thymic emigrants (RTEs) in contrast to the small proportion found in adults. RTEs are the youngest subset of naïve T cells that have recently entered the periphery after emerging from the thymus. Her research showed that hypersensitivity to vitamin A helped RTEs function as suppressor T cells, and, as a result, preterm babies can't mount strong effector T cell responses against infections.

Scientific Publications

RORγt-Expressing Pathogenic CD4(+) T Cells Cause Brain Inflammation during Chronic Colitis.

Mickael ME, Bhaumik S, Chakraborti A, Umfress AA, van Groen T, Macaluso M, Totenhagen J, Sorace AG, Bibb JA, Standaert DG, Basu R
J Immunol.
2022 Apr 15;
doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.2100869
PMID: 35379749

RORγt Promotes Foxp3 Expression by Antagonizing the Effector Program in Colonic Regulatory T Cells.

Bhaumik S, Mickael ME, Moran M, Spell M, Basu R
J Immunol.
2021 Oct 15;
doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.2100175
PMID: 34518282

Cellular and Molecular Dynamics of Th17 Differentiation and its Developmental Plasticity in the Intestinal Immune Response.

Bhaumik S, Basu R
Front Immunol.
doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00254
PMID: 28408906

IL-1 signaling modulates activation of STAT transcription factors to antagonize retinoic acid signaling and control the TH17 cell-iTreg cell balance.

Basu R, Whitley SK, Bhaumik S, Zindl CL, Schoeb TR, Benveniste EN, Pear WS, Hatton RD, Weaver CT
Nat Immunol.
2015 Mar;
doi: 10.1038/ni.3099
PMID: 25642823

Retinoic acid hypersensitivity promotes peripheral tolerance in recent thymic emigrants.

Bhaumik S, Giffon T, Bolinger D, Kirkman R, Lewis DB, Weaver CT, Randolph DA
J Immunol.
2013 Mar 15;
doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1200852
PMID: 23401586

KMP-11 DNA immunization significantly protects against L. donovani infection but requires exogenous IL-12 as an adjuvant for comparable protection against L. major.

Bhaumik S, Basu R, Sen S, Naskar K, Roy S
2009 Feb 25;
doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.12.053
PMID: 19162111


Jadavpur University
Ph.D. Immunology (2007)

Calcutta University
M.Sc. in Biophysics and Molecular Biology (2000)


Staff Scientist
University of Alabama at Birmingham (2016-2022)

Post-Doctoral Fellow
University of Alabama at Birmingham (2009-2016)

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