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Department of Immunology
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Phone: 412-383-9737
Fax: 412-383-8098
hendricks_head.jpg Robert L. Hendricks , Ph.D.
Professor of Ophthalmology
922 EEINS (Office)
919 EEINS (Lab)
Pittsburgh, PA 
Phone: 412.647.5754
Fax: 412.647.5880
Faculty Research Interests
Research Interests
Dr. Hendricks’ research focuses on three important aspects of the immune response to herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1):

HSV-1 induces immunopathology in the cornea of the eye that can lead to scarring and blindness. CD4 T cells through Th1 and Th17 cytokines mediate the inflammation in HSV-1 infected mouse corneas, providing an interesting and clinically important model for studying mechanisms of T cell-mediated inflammation and tissue destruction. The clarity of the corneal tissue permits direct observation of the developing inflammation, and the cornea facilitates manipulation of the T cell-antigen presenting cell interaction and local cytokine and chemokine functions, the focus of current studies.

When corneas become scarred by recurrent bouts of HSV-1 induced inflammation the only recourse is corneal transplantation. Unfortunately patients with recurrent HSV-1 corneal disease reject transplanted corneas at a very high rate. Our laboratory is employing a model of corneal transplantation in mice to study the mechanisms of accelerated corneal graft rejection in mice with previous HSV-1 corneal disease.

During primary infection at mucosal surfaces, HSV-1 invades sensory neurons, is transported to neuronal cell bodies in the sensory ganglia, and there establishes a latent (quiescent) infection. Reactivation from latency results in recurrent disease in innervated tissues including the cornea. Our laboratory first demonstrated that CD8 T cells provide active immunesurveillance of latently infected neurons, preventing reactivation from the latent state. We are currently characterizing T cell receptor specificity and function of CD8 T cells in latently infected sensory ganglia with the goal of developing vaccines or other means of augmenting their protective function.
  • B.S. - University of Illinois Chicago
  • M.S. - University of Illinois Chicago
  • Ph.D. - University of Illinois Chicago
Academic Affiliation
  • Joseph F. Novak Professor and Vice-chair for Research, Department of Ophthalmology
  • Professor, Departments of Immunology and Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry
  • Member, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
  • Faculty member, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
Selected Publications
1. St. Leger, A.J., B. Peters, J. Sidney, A. Sette, and R.L. Hendricks. 2011. Defining the herpes simplex virus-specific CD8+ T cell repertoire in C57BL/6 mice. J. Immunol. 186: 3927-3933.

2. Frank, G. M., A. J. Lepisto, M. L. Freeman, B. S. Sheridan, T. L. Cherpes, and R. L. Hendricks. 2010. Early CD4(+) T cell help prevents partial CD8(+) T cell exhaustion and promotes maintenance of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 latency. J.Immunol. 184:277-286.

3. Sheridan, B. S., T. L. Cherpes, J. Urban, P. Kalinski, and R. L. Hendricks. 2009. Reevaluating the CD8 T-cell response to herpes simplex virus type 1: involvement of CD8 T cells reactive to subdominant epitopes. J.Virol. 83:2237-2245.

4. Knickelbein, J. E., K. M. Khanna, M. B. Yee, C. J. Baty, P. R. Kinchington, and R. L. Hendricks. 2008. Noncytotoxic lytic granule-mediated CD8+ T cell inhibition of HSV-1 reactivation from neuronal latency. Science 322:268-271.
Title: Role of cytotoxic lymphocytes in HSV-1 corneal lesions
Agency: NIH
Role: P.I.
Funding Period: 1986-2013

Title: Cytokines and adhesion molecules in HSV keratitis
Agency: NIH
Role: P.I.
Funding Period: 1993-2012

Title: Gene expression in HSV-1 latency after corneal infection
Agency: NIH
Role: C0-P.I.
Funding Period: 2004-2013
Lab Personnel
Postdoctoral Fellow:
Alexander Rowe, PhD

Graduate students
Kristine-Ann Buela
Sophia Jeon
Anthony St. Leger

Jessica Spehar

Lab Manager
Dawn Maker

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