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Tim Sparer

Associate Professor



My laboratory is investigating the role of the viral chemokines from cytomegaloviruses in dissemination and pathogenesis. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised hosts. HCMV infection/reactivation is a significant factor in graft rejection in solid organ trans-plants, graft vs. host disease in bone marrow transplants, and has been implicated in the development of coronary disease in heart transplant patients. Additionally, primary cytomegalovirus infection during pregnancy can lead to hearing loss, mild learning disabilities or mental retardation. Because of these long-term detrimental effects, the Institute of Medicine has made a vaccine for HCMV a top priority. Understanding the pathogenesis and dissemination of HCMV will provide valuable information for developing safe and effective vaccines or therapeutics. Cytomegaloviruses, as well as other herpesviruses, have evolved mechanisms for altering both the innate and the adaptive arms of the immune response. Their co-evolution with the host allows an intimate interrelationship between these viruses and the immune system. Dissecting how herpesviruses subvert and usurp the immune system will not only reveal important information about viral pathogenesis but may also unveil unique immunological pathways. Both murine and human cytomegaloviruses encode proteins with sequence homology to known chemokines. Chemokines are small chemotactic cytokines that are important in controlling leukocyte trafficking during innate, inflammatory, and adaptive immune responses. Chemokines fall into two major groups based on the spacing of the amino terminal cysteines: CXC chemokines function mostly on neutrophils, while CC chemokines function on a much broader array of cell types (immune and non-immune cell types). Murine CMV produces a CC chemokine homologue, while HCMV has two homologues to CXC chemokines. My work focuses on both human and murine cytomegaloviruses, investigating how these viruses use viral chemokines to alter the trafficking of immune cells for the viruses' benefit.


  • B.A., 1989, Northwestern University
  • Ph.D., 1996, Emory University
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, 1996-1999, Imperial College, London, UK
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, 1999-2003, Stanford University



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