Gallagher Lab

The Gallagher Lab, led by Dr. Katherine A. Gallagher, works to improve innate immunity and cell function in cardiovascular and cardiometabolic disease.

Current Research in the Gallagher Lab

Led by Dr. Katherine A. Gallagher, the Gallagher Laboratory investigates the role of immunity, inflammation and epigenetics in wound healing, sepsis, aneurysm/atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular and cardiometabolic diseases. She is a foremost authority in this translational area, working to advance our understanding of the basic mechanisms, pathways and proteins involved in regulating inflammation in tissues. The goal of this work, motivated in part by Dr. Gallagher's active vascular surgery clinical practice, is to identify new drug targets and therapies to improve clinical care in patients with cardiovascular and cardiometabolic disease, such as diabetes. Recently, her lab has expanded on these common themes and are examining the role of the immune system and epigenetics in a broad spectrum of vascular diseases.


The role of the immune system in cardiovascular health and disease is critical.  In many cardiovascular pathologies, the immune system goes awry, causing dysregulated inflammation. Although there are many triggers for the immune system to become disinhibited, our lab focuses on epigenetic alterations in the immune cells that control their inflammatory potential. This allows us to target these mechanisms and design cell-and eventually patient specific therapies to restore the cells to their native state. The goal of the work in our laboratory is identify therapeutic targets and develop effective new approaches so that we can better treat our patients.

Our Approach

Our laboratory investigates the role chronic inflammation and immune cell function play in vascular diseases.

Our lab is focused on identifying how changes at the molecular level impact innate immune cell function and the structural cells with which they interact in diseases such as diabetic wounds, sepsis, atherosclerosis/PAD and AAAs. This will enable us to develop new and targeted immune therapies to restore cells to their normal state.

Contributions to Science

Research conducted in the Gallagher Laboratory has led to several key contributions to the understanding of impaired wound healing in diabetes, immunosuppression in sepsis, inflammatory macrophage phenotypes in AAAs and the role of stem cells that are epigenetically programmed towards increased inflammation in diabetes.

We also were the first to show that epigenetic changes — changes in how genes are expressed that are not caused by a change in the DNA sequence — in bone marrow stem cells, macrophages and other immune and structural cells lead these cellsto assume an inflammatory rather than a reparative state. These changes result in chronic inflammation that impedes healing in disease states. We further identified several enzymes and pathways involved, pointing us to new targets for more effective therapeutic approaches.

Research education is a pillar of our laboratory's work as well. We are training the next cadre of scientists in translational medicine by mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and residents. Dr. Gallagher is part of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Graduate Program in Immunology as well as the PI for the vascular surgery T32. She has trained many K99, F31, F32 and T32 fellows as well as K08, K23 and K12 recipients and MICHR translational training grants. She was recently awarded the MICHR mentor of the year award in 2022 for her exceptional mentoring of trainees.