Research Centers and Programs

Harrington Lab

Welcome to the Harrington Lab

The Harrington Lab focuses on intergenerational immune interactions and their effect on susceptibility to infection during pregnancy and infection. In particular, we investigate the role of maternal microchimerism (maternal cells acquired by the fetus in utero) in fetal and infant immune development, early vaccine responses, and susceptibility to infection. We have ongoing collaborations with Drs. Lisa Frenkel and Heather Jaspan from Seattle Children’s, Drs. Marion Pepper and Hilary Gammill from the University of Washington (UW) and Dr. Lee Nelson from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.

Current Research Projects

We have previously demonstrated that malaria infection and inflammation of the placenta results in infants acquiring more maternal cells. In addition, we found that infants with detectable maternal cells were more susceptible to malaria infection but, interestingly, less likely to be sick from their infections. Current projects in the lab include isolating and phenotyping the maternal cells, determining whether infants acquire a maternal graft with immunologic memory, and whether the maternal cells affect the development of immune responses against malaria and HIV.

About Dr. Harrington

Whitney HarringtonWhitney Harrington, MD, PhD, is a member of the Center for Global Infectious Disease Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Washington, and an affiliate investigator at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Her research is supported by grants from NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and the UW Center for AIDS Research (CFAR).

Selected Publications

  1. Shree R, Harrington WE, Kanaan SB, Forsyth A, Cousin E, Lopez A, Nelson JL and Gammill HS. Fetal microchimerism by mode of delivery in healthy pregnanciesBJOG 2018, in press. 
  2. Harrington WE, Kakuru A and Jagannathan P. Consequences of malaria in pregnancy on the development of fetal and infant immunityParasite Immunol 2018, in press. Review
  3. Gammill HS and Harrington WEMicrochimerism: Defining and redefining the prepregnancy context – A review.Placenta 2017 Dec;60:130-133. Review. PMID28911790. PMC5718967. 
  4. Harrington WE, Kanaan SB, Muehlenbachs A, Morrison R, Stevenson P, Fried M, Duffy PE and Lee Nelson J. Maternal microchimerism predicts increased infection but decreased disease due to Plasmodium falciparum during early childhood. J Infect Dis 2017 May 1;215(9):1445-1451. PMID28329160. PMC5790147.
  5. Kanaan SB, Gammill HS, Harrington WE, De Rosa SC, Stevenson PA, Forsyth AM, Allen J, Cousin E, van Besien K, Delaney CS and Nelson JL. Maternal microchimerism is prevalent in cord blood in memory T cells and other cell subsets, and persists post-transplantOncoimmunology 2017 6(5):e1311436. PMID28638735. PMC5467984.

In the News

January 13, 2023

Maternal Immunization Boosts Vaccine-Specific T Cells in Breastmilk

October 13, 2022
COVID False Positives Found in Lab Workers

July 1, 2022
Publication Q&A: Factors Influencing Maternal Microchimerism Throughout Infancy and its Impact on Infant T cell Immunity

Contact Us

Physical Address

Center for Global Infectious Disease Research
307 Westlake Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98109