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Sabra Klein: Sex differences in Immune Response

Thursday, June 24, 2021 12:00pm to 1:00pm

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Part of the EPPIcenter seminar series

Dr Sabra Klein’s research program aims to uncover the mechanisms mediating how males and females differ in their immune responses to viral infection and vaccination. They hypothesize that sex chromosome complement and X-linked genes as well as sex steroids and signaling through sex steroid receptors are critical pathways modulating immune responses to viruses.  They are exploring how immunological, hormonal, and genetic differences between males and females affect sex differences in susceptibility to viruses, including influenza, Zika, and SARS-CoV-2 viruses. They also study the mechanisms mediating altered immune responses and infectious disease pathogenesis during pregnancy. The research indicates that non-pregnant females typically mount more robust immune responses than males, which can be beneficial for the efficacy of vaccines and clearance of viruses, but also can be detrimental by causing immunopathology.



Dr. Klein’s works in the departments of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, and International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is an expert on sex and gender differences in immune responses and susceptibility to infection, and has over 130 peer-reviewed publications, authored several book chapters, and has edited two books on sex differences in response to infection and treatments for infectious diseases. During the 2009 influenza pandemic, she was commissioned by the WHO to report on the on the impact of sex, gender, and pregnancy on influenza virus infection outcomes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Klein has written commentaries for several journals and been interviewed by several major news media outlets about male-biased disease outcomes.

Dr Klein completed her doctoral research in behavioural neuroscience at Johns Hopkins, where she studied the sex and species differences in rodent immune function.


The EPPIcenter at UCSF brings a systems epidemiology approach to understanding complex infectious disease dynamics by integrating state-of-the-art data collection, molecular technologies, and computational analysis. Our interdisciplinary approach provides novel insight into the targeting of interventions to reduce and ultimately eliminate infectious disease burden.

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Event Details

  • Sabra Klein
  • Yvonne Lee
  • Katrina Blank
  • Dmitry Rychkov

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