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Sabra Klein, PhD '98, studies sex differences and the effects of pregnancy on immune responses to viruses, including influenza viruses and SARS-Cov-2, and vaccines.

Contact Info

615 N. Wolfe Street, Room W2118

Research Interests

Molecular Microbiology and Immunology; Androgens; COVID-19; Endocrine-Immune Interactions; Estrogens; Immunology; Infectious Diseases; Influenza; Menopause; Pregnancy; SARS-CoV-2; Sex Differences; Vaccines; Viruses; Women's Health

Experiences & Accomplishments
Johns Hopkins University
University of Georgia
University of Georgia
Randolph-Macon College

The overarching goal of my research program is to uncover the mechanisms mediating how males and females differ in their immune responses to viral infection and vaccination. We 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. We consider how immunological, hormonal, and genetic differences between males and females affect sex differences in susceptibility to viruses, including influenza and SARS-CoV-2 viruses. We also study the mechanisms mediating altered immune responses and infectious disease pathogenesis during pregnancy. Altered immunity against viruses during pregnancy, including at the maternal-fetal interface, can contribute to adverse maternal and fetal outcomes. 

Honors & Awards

2023 Vivian Pinn Award for Outstanding Research in Women's Health

2022/2023 Clarivate Analytics Top Cited Researchers

2022 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

2022 NIH/NIAID Merit Award

2021 Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology
2021 Donna Vogel Women's Health Champion Award
2017 Delta Omega Induction
2016 Distinguished Alumni Award, Randolph-Macon College
2010 Society for Women’s Health Research Medtronic Award for Science Contributions
2007 Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Faculty Innovation Fund Award
2002 National Foundation for Infectious Diseases New Investigator Award

Select Publications

This list contains recent publications from the past year, with a majority reflecting the hard work of trainees in the Klein lab.

  • Hoffman, J.P., Liu, J.A., Sedu, K., & Klein, S.L. 2023. Sex hormone signaling and regulation of immune function. Immunity, 56(11):2472-2491.

  • Creisher, P.S., Perry, J.L., Zhong, W., Lei, J., Mulka, K., Ryan, H., Zhou, R., Akin, E.H., Liu, A.,, Mitzner, W., Burd, I., Pekosz, A., & Klein, S.L. 2023. Adverse outcomes in SARS-CoV-2 infected pregnant mice are gestational age-dependent band resolve with antiviral treatment. Journal of Clinical Investigations,133(20):e170687.

  • Shapiro, J.R., Seddu, K., Park, H-S., Creisher, P.S., Li, H., Abrams, E., Leng, S.X., Morgan, R., & Klein, S.L. 2023. The intersection of biological sex and gender in adverse events following high dose seasonal influenza vaccination in older adults. Immunity & Ageing, 20(1):43.

  • Ursin, R.L., Dhakal, S., Liu, H., Jayaraman, S., Park, H-S., Powell, H.R., Sherer, M., Littlefield, K., Fink, A.L., Ma, Z, Mueller, A., Chen, A.P., Wang, A., Woldetsadik, Y., Gearhart, P.J., Larman, B., Maul, R.W., Pekosz, A., Klein, S.L.  2022. Greater breadth of vaccine-induced immunity in females than males is mediated by increased antibody diversity in germinal center B cells. mBio, doi:10.1128/mbio.01839-22.

  • Dhakal, S. Ruiz-Bedoya, C., Zhou, R., Cheisher, P.S., Villano, J.S., Littlefield, K., Castillo, J. R., Marinho, P., Jedlicka, A., Ordonez, A.A., Majewski, N., Betenbaugh, M.J., Flavahan, K., Mueller, A.L., Looney, M.M., Quijada, D., Wood, M., Mota, F., Pieterse, L., Metcalf Pate, K.A., Karakousis, P.C., Mankowski, J., Pekosz, A., Jain, S.K., & Klein, S.L. 2021. Sex differences in lung pathology and SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses in golden Syrian hamsters. mBio, 12:e00974-21.

  • Mauvais-Jarvis, F., Bairey Merz, N., Barnes, P.J., Brinton, R.D., Carrero, J.J., DeMeo, D.L., De Vries, G.J., Epperson, C.N., Govindan, R., Klein, S.L., Lonardo, A., Maki, P.M., McCullough, L.D., Regitz-Zagrosek, V., Regensteiner, J.G., Rubin, J.B., Sandberg, K., & Suzuki, A. 2020. Sex and gender: Modifiers of health, disease and medicine. Lancet, 396, 565-582.

Sex and Age Differences in Immunity to Influenza
Specialized Center of Research Excellence in Sex Differences
Arsenic and immune response to influenza vaccination in pregnant women and newborns
Johns Hopkins Excellence in Pathogenesis and Immunity Center for SARS-CoV-2 (JH-EPICS)
Johns Hopkins Center of Excellence in Influenza Research and Response (JH-CEIRR)