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Nanjappa, Som G.

Assistant Professor of Immunology

Address and Contact Information

#2828 VMBSB
2001 S. Lincoln Avenue
Urbana, IL  61802


  • Ph.D: Department of Pathobiological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • DVM: University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India

Academic Positions

Assistant Professor of Immunology: Department of Pathobiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Assistant Scientist: Department of Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Research Associate: Department of Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Research (Graduate) Assistant: Department of Pathobiological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Graduate Assistant: Department of Veterinary Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Honors and Awards

  • Innovation Award: American Lung Association, USA, 2020-
  • AAI Early Career Faculty Travel Grant: American Association of Immunologists, Honolulu, USA, 2020
  • AAI Early Career Faculty Travel Grant: American Association of Immunologists, San Diego, USA, 2019
  • AAI Trainee Poster Award: American Association of Imunologists, Pittsburgh, USA, 2014
  • AAI Trainee Abstract Award: American Association of Immunologists, Honolulu, USA, 2013
  • AAI Trainee Abstract Award: American Association of Immunologists, San Francisco, USA, 2011
  • AAI Trainee Abstract Award: American Association of Immunologists, Baltimore, USA, 2010
  • Milton E. Mohr Scholarship and Fellowship: Center for Biotechnology and the College of Engineering and Technology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2004
  • The Life Sciences Interdisciplinary Graduate Recruitment Program Traineeship: Biomedical Sciences group, University of Nebraska-Lincoln 2003-2004
  • Summer Research Fellowship: Indian Institute of Sciences & Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, India, 1998-99
  • Merit Scholarship: University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India, 1996-97

Research Interests

We love to study anything that is related to infectious immunology, and are open to other immunology related areas. However, we are particularly interested in studying the infections caused by opportunistic pathogens. We use different classes of pathogens such as Blastomyces sps., Mycobacterium sps., and Toxoplasma sps., and other opportunistic fungal and bacterial sps. 

Currently, we are focused on three major fronts in infectious immunology.

1. Innate and adaptive immune responses to bacterial, fungal and protozoan infections and vaccinations. 

2. Functional and dysfunctional respiratory immune responses to bacterial and fungal infections.

3. Uncovering the mechanisms involved in immunopathology during immunity to bacterial and fungal infections.


  • NIH R21 AI119945: Role of GM-CSF+IL-17+CD8T cells in respiratory fungal immunity. 1-Mar-2016 to 28-Feb-2019


  • Innovation Award-American Lung Association. 1-July-2020 to current


Pubmed Link to Peer Reviewed Publications.

Selected Publications

  • Ma L, Wang L, Nelson AT, Han C, He S, Henn MA, Menon K, Chen JJ, Baek AE, Vardanyan A, Shahoei SH, Park S, Shapiro DJ, Nanjappa SG, Nelson ER. 2020.  27-Hydroxycholesterol acts on myeloid immune cells to induce T cell dysfunction, promoting breast cancer progression. Cancer Letters. Aug 27:S0304-3835(20)30435-3. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2020.08.020. Online ahead of print. PMID: 32861706


  • Nanjappa SG*, Mudalagiriyappa S, Fites S, M Suresh and BS Klein. 2018. Cbl-b constrains inactivated vaccine-induced CD8+ T cell responses and immunity against lethal fungal pneumonia. The Journal of Immunology. 201 (6): 1717-1726. doi:10.4049/jimmunol.1701241. *Corresponding author.

                  Journal’s ‘In this issue’ article 


  • Nanjappa SG*, McDermott AJ, Fites JS, Galles K, Wuthrich M, Deepe GS Jr and BS Klein*. 2017. Antifungal Tc17 cells are durable and stable, persisting as long-lasting vaccine memory without plasticity towards IFNγ cells. PLoS Pathogens. 13(5):e1006356. Doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006356. *Corresponding authors.


  • Nanjappa SG*, Hernandez-Santos N, Galles K, Wuthrich M, Suresh M and BS Klein*. 2015. Intrinsic MyD88-Akt1-mTOR coordinates disparate Tc1 and Tc17 cell responses during vaccine immunity against fungal pneumonia. PLoS Pathogens. 11(9):e1005161. Doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005161. *Corresponding authors. 


  • Nanjappa SG* and BS Klein*. 2014. Vaccine Immunity against Fungal infections. Review article. Current Opinion in Immunology. 28C:27-33. Doi:10.1016/j.coi.2014.01.014. *Corresponding authors. 


  • Brandhorst TT, Roy R, Wüthrich M, Nanjappa S, Filutowicz H, Galles K, Tonelli M, McCaslin DR, Satyshur K and B Klein. 2013. Structure and Function of a Fungal Adhesin that Binds Heparin and Mimics Thrombospondin-1 by Blocking T Cell Activation and Effector Function. PLoS Pathogens. 9(7): e1003464. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003464.


  • Roy RM, Paes HC, Nanjappa SG, Sorkness R, Gasper D, Sterkel A, Wuthrich M and BS Klein. 2013. Complement component 3C3 and C3a receptor are required in chitin-dependent allergic sensitization to Aspergillus fumigatus but dispensable in chitin-induced innate allergic inflammation. mBio. 4:2 doi:10.1128/mBio.00162-13. 


  • Nanjappa SG, Heninger E, Wüthrich M, Gasper D and BS Klein. 2012. Tc17 cells mediate vaccine immunity against lethal fungal pneumonia in immune deficient hosts lacking CD4+ T cells. PLoS Pathogens. 8(7): e1002771. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002771.  

                    Journal’s ‘featured research’ article 

                    Recommended in ‘FACULTY 1000Prime’ 


  • Nanjappa SG, Heninger E, Wuthrich M, and BS Klein. 2012. Protective antifungal memory CD8+ T cells are maintained in the absence of CD4+ T cell help and cognate antigen in mice. Journal of Clinical Investigation. 122(3):987-99.  

                   Journal’s ‘In this issue’ article 

                   Recommended in ‘FACULTY1000Prime’ 


  • Nanjappa SG, Kim EH and M Suresh. 2011. Immunotherapeutic effects of IL-7 during a chronic viral infection. Blood. 117(19):5123-32. 


  • Nanjappa SG, Walent JH, Morre M and M Suresh. 2008. Effects of IL-7 on memory CD8 T cell homeostasis are influenced by the timing of therapy in mice. Journal of Clinical Investigation. 118(3):1027-39. 

                   Highlighted paper of the journal’s issue. 

                   Highlighted in ‘news and commentary’ in the nature journal        

                         Immunology and Cell Biology (2008) 86, 385–386. 


  • Shamim M*, Nanjappa SG*, Singh A* Plisch EH, LeBlanc SE, Walent J, Svaren J, Seroogy C and M Suresh. 2007. Cbl-b regulates antigen-induced TCR down-regulation and IFN-gamma production by effector CD8 T cells without affecting functional avidity. Journal of Immunology. 179(11):7233-43. *authors contributed equally for this work. 


Research Biography

I always wondered about the diseases afflicting humans. During my childhood, I still remember my mother's relentless help protect me during my 'susceptible' age (many vicious bouts went on to my six years of age!). I still remember my chicken pox encounter(: Although I had my inclination towards battling against pathogens during my professional veterinary program, I could grasp the power of vaccines to defeat many 'nasty' infections during my practice, a 'fuel' continuing still in my soul and goal.

My research interests focus on infectious immunology. Immunity deals with host sensing pathogens, in lieu of commensal microbiota, in a way that pathogens are either prevented or eliminated. Host immune systems have evolutionarily developed, specifically, to mount a robust immune response to eliminate the 'unwanted invaders'. Nevertheless, 'same evolution' has given the pathogen a greater opportunity to enter host efficiently, to establish persistence by evading host immune responses, and to disseminate when host's protection is crumbled. The protective host immunity is at 'peril' when host immune system is compromised like during HIV infection, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, transplantation and/or any other medical intervention that suppress the immunity. In this evolutionary 'battle' between host and pathogen, and 'our own' independent 'habits', pathogens are taking a dominant stage in many ways. The pathogens, which were considered innocuous, have become threats in a greater extent.

In this 'crossroad', my research focuses on how to prevent and/or eliminate the 'vicious' pathogens during the 'immunocompromised' state of an individual. My research goals are to develop both preventive vaccines (effective) and therapeutic (immune-based) approaches. Currently, I use 'state of the art' mouse models of infections using bacterial, fungal, and protozoan pathogens to uncover not only how they successfully breach the immune barriers, but also develop immunotherapeutic/preventive interventions. My research, further, extends to use of human cells/cell lines to address the crtical gaps in translational discovery. Nevertheless, One Health Initiative, give us an additional opportunity to encompass animal health and models to address the unmet needs for human health.

In this context, I met a great mentor, M. Suresh, during my Ph.D. program, where I could decipher the power of immunotherapy, including the understanding of fundamentals of T cell memory, a basis of vaccine immunity. Continuation with this passion, for my postdoctoral traineeship, I was 'lucky' to be a part of Bruce Klein lab, Bruce being another great mentor, where I could muster my shaped knowledge to show that 'primed' CD8+ T cells can indeed become CD4+ T cell  'helpless' potent memory T cells producing protective type 17 (IL-17A) and type I cytokines to eliminate respiratory fungal infections.

The Passion continues to endure as I embark on my journey at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to address the needs of the human health and One Health.

Professional Affiliations

  • The American Association of Immunologists (AAI)
  • The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • International Society for Interferon and Cytokine Research (ISICR)

Professional Certifications

  • Diplomate, American Board of Toxicology, Inc.

Selected Service Activities

Peer Review Activities:

  • Journal of Immunology
  • PLoS One 
  • Frontiers in Immunology
  • Frontiers in Microbiology
  • Journal of Fungi
  • International Journal of Nanomedicine
  • Journal of Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, ASM Press
  • International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, Elsevier Press
  • Chinese Journal of Chemistry
  • Immunology MCQs-Benham Science Publishers
  • Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, Elsevier Press
  • Chemical Research in Toxicology, ACS
  • Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease

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