Dr. Jatin (Jay) Vyas’s laboratory focuses on the innate immune response to invasive fungal infections. The first line of defense against these pathogens is phagocytic cells, including neutrophils and macrophages. In addition to neutralization, these cells place these fungal organisms in membrane-delimited compartments termed phagosomes for destruction and antigen processing and presentation. His lab uses fungal pathogens of clinical importance including Cryptococcus neoformans, Aspergillus fumigatus, and Candida albicans as the model pathogens to study phagosome formation and maturation. Using live cell imaging with spinning disk confocal microscopy, they visualize primary antigen-presenting cells and the responses to exposure to fungi in real time using fluorescently tagged proteins of the endocytic pathway and the antigen processing and presentation machinery. They examine the role of Dectin-1, LC-3 (a member of the autophagy family of proteins), Toll-like receptors, and members of the tetraspanin family and their effects on phagosomal maturation. Collectively, their studies have revealed that the content of the phagosome dictates specific recruitment of mammalian proteins that influence antigen processing and presentation. Using a reductionist approach, the Vyas lab has also developed synthetic beads decorated with highly purified constituents of the fungal cell wall (fungal-like particles) to dissect the immune response to these clinically relevant pathogens.
In 2014, Jay was named the tenth Program Director of the MGH Department of Medicine Residency Program, supervising 200 interns and residents. As an NIH-funded investigator with interests in basic science, Dr. Vyas provides a unique perspective to the medical housestaff. He mentors physician-scientists who aspire to impact clinical medicine through investigation and has advocated for the interests of physician-scientists in training at the national level. In addition, Dr. Vyas serves as a Visit on the Infectious Diseases Consult Service and General Medicine Service at MGH.