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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; Contraceptives; COVID-19; Endocrine-Immune Interactions; Estrogens; Immunology; Infectious Diseases; Influenza; Pregnancy; SARS-CoV-2; Sex Differences; Vaccines; Viruses; Women's Health; Zika virus
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, Zika, and SARS-CoV-2 viruses. We also study the mechanisms mediating altered immune responses and infectious disease pathogenesis during pregnancy. Our 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.
Honors & Awards
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.
  • Klein, S. L., Pekosz, A., Park, H-.S., Ursin, R. L., Shapiro, J., Benner, S., Littlefield, K., Kumar, S., Naik, H., Betenbaugh, M. J., Shrestha, R., Wu, A., Hughes, R., Burgess, I., Caturegli, P., Laeyendecker, O., Quinn, T. C., Sullivan, D., Shoham, S., Redd, A. D., Bloch, E. M., Casadevall, A., Tobian, A. A. R. Sex, age, and hospitalization drive antibody responses in a COVID-19 convalescent plasma donor population. Journal of Clinical Investigation, doi: 10.1172/JCI142004.
  • Ursin, R. L., Liu, H., Powell, H. R., Westerbeck, J., Shaw-Saliba, K., Sylvia, K., Fenstermacher, K. J., Mehoke, T., Theilen, P., Rothman, R. E., Pekosz, A., & Klein, S. L. 2020. Differential antibody recognition of H3N2 vaccine and seasonal influenza virus strains based on age, vaccine status, and sex in the 2017-18 season. Journal of Infectious Diseases, doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiaa289.
  • 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.
  • Sherer, M.L., Lei, J., Creisher, P., Jang, M., Reddy, R., Voegtline, K., Olson, S., Littlefield, K., Park, H-.S., Ursin, R. L., Ganesan, A., Boyer, T., Brown, D.M., Walch, S.N., Antar, A.A.R., Manabe, Y.C., Jones-Beatty, K., Golden, W.C., Satin, A.J., Sheffield, J.S., Pekosz, A., Klein, S.L., Burd, I. 2021. Pregnancy alters IL-1? expression and antiviral antibody responses during SARS-CoV-2 infection. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, in press.
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)