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Christopher Thompson


2010-2011 President of the American Society of Microbiology - Maryland Branch


The innate immune system functions as the first line of defense against microbial invasion and subsequent infection. In addition, proper function of the innate immune system is necessary for generation of an adaptive immune response and immunologic memory (the basis of vaccination). Despite the diversity and quantity of research being conductedregarding the innate immune system, there are still many gaps in our knowledge. The focus of my current research involves elucidating mechanisms through which the innate immune system can be positively or negatively regulated, especially in the context of alternative medicine.

Alternative/complementary medicine is defined as a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine. In an era of rising medical costs and increasing antibiotic resistance in microbes, many people are turning to these types of therapies. In fact, over 80% of the population uses some form of alternative/complementary medicine (e.g., the use of herbal remedies, tai chi, reiki, acupuncture, etc.) to maintain and/or improve their health. Unfortunately, since these products and practices are not regulated by the FDA or other oversight groups, many patients are using them based only on anecdotal evidence. It is critical that scientific studies address this problem by assessing the efficacy and mechanism of these therapeutic strategies.

Research in the Thompson lab is centered on testing the ability of common herbal remedies- especially those touted to “boost” the immune system- to alter phagocytosis, microbicidal activity, and cytokine secretion in macrophages and neutrophils. To date, we have focused predominantly on echinacea and green tea, finding that each of these significantly alters innate immune responses. We are continuing to assess different preparations of these herbs (and others) as well as working to define the mechanism through which they mediate these immunomodulatory effects.


  • B.S. Eastern Washington University
  • Ph.D. University of Iowa


  • Christopher Thompson. Interactive Clinical Cases, chapters 1-21. Microbiology: Basic and Clinical Principles by Lourdes Norman-McKay. Accepted for publication July 2018. The book, including my clinical cases, will be published by Pearson Publishing Group in January 2019.
  • Christopher Thompson, Joseph Sanchez, Michael Smith, Judy Costello, Amrita Madabushi, Natasha Schuh-Nuhfer, Rommel Miranda, Brian Gaines, Kathleen Kennedy, Michael Tangrea, and David Rivers. Improving Undergraduate Life Science Education for the Biosciences Workforce: Overcoming the Disconnect Between Educators and Industry. CBE-Life Sciences. Submitted 30 March 2018. Revised and accepted 11 June 2018.
  • Rachel Scheraga, Christopher Thompson, Mohan Tulapurkar, Ashish Nagarsekar, Mark Cowan, Ratnakar Potla, Junfeng Sun, Rongman Cai, Carolea Logun, James Shelhamer, Ishwar Singh, Irina Luzina, Sergei Atamas, and Jeffrey Hasday. 2016. Activation of Heat Shock Response Augments Fibroblast Growth Factor-1 Expression in Wounded Lung Epithelium. American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology. 311(5):L941-L955
  • J. D. Hasday, C. R. Thompson, I. S. Singh. 2014. Fever, Immunity, and Molecular Adaptations. Comprehensive Physiology 4(1):109-148.
  • C. R. Thompson, R. S. Brogan, L. Z. Scheifele, and D. B. Rivers. 2013. Bacterial Interactions with Necrophagous Flies. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 106(6):799-809.
  • D.B. Rivers, C. R. Thompson, and R. S. Brogan. 2011. Physiological trade-offs of forming maggot masses by necrophagous flies on vertebrate carrion. Bulletin of Entomological Research. 101(5):599-611.
  • R. S. Brogan, MacGibeny, M., Mix, S., Thompson, C.R., Puttabyatappa, M., VandeVoort, C.A., and C.L. Chaffin. 2011. Dynamics of intrafollicular glucose, lactate and pyruvate during luteinization of macaque ovarian follicles. Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, 332(1-2):189-9.
  • D. J. Kusner , C. R. Thompson, N. Melrose, S. M. Pitson, L. M. Obeid, and S. S. Iyer. 2007. The Localization and Activity of Sphingosine Kinase 1 Are Coordinately Regulated with Actin Cytoskeletal Dynamics in Macrophages. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 282:23147

Areas of Specialization

  • Immunology
  • Microbiology


  • Grant Awarded: Major Research Instrumentation (National Science Foundation) - $273,698.00 “MRI Acquisition: Development of a Multi-Institution Microscopy Core Facility at Loyola University Maryland: Acquisition of a Confocal Microscope” (2012)