Dr. Kyle Mckenna

Dr. Kyle McKenna

Professor of Biology

(740) 283-6765

Download CV
  • B.S. with honors in Biology – University of Maryland (College Park, MD)
  • Ph. D. in Microbiology and Immunology – University of Maryland (Baltimore, MD)
  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Ocular Immunology – Emory University (Atlanta, GA)


  • Abbott Laboratories (1991-1993)
  • Adjunct Associate Professor of Ophthalmology – University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (2014-present)

Honors and Awards

  • 1987-1989 Athletic Director’s Scholar Athlete Award, University of Maryland, College Park
  • 1990 Senior Summer Scholarship, University of Maryland, College Park
  • 1990 Omicron Delta Kappa, Sigma Circle, University of Maryland, College Park
  • 1997 Travel Award, American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
  • 2000-2003 Ruth L Kirschstein National Research Service Award

Research Interests

Immune responses in the eye are absolutely critical to eliminate pathogens that could damage ocular tissues and cause blindness. For example, immune suppressed AIDS patients often develop blinding cytomegalovirus infections of the retina. However, ocular immune responses can also pose a threat to vision if pathogen elimination destroys ocular cells that do not regenerate. This occurs in Herpes Simplex virus infections of the cornea. As a result, immune responses in the eye are tightly regulated to minimize inflammation. This phenomenon, termed ocular immune privilege is explored in the McKenna Laboratory. Our goal is to identify mechanisms that maintain immune privilege and can be targeted therapeutically to activate ocular immune responses to eliminate intraocular tumors, or inactivate ocular immune responses to minimize immunopathology.

Undergraduate Researchers


  • Jessica Andersen
  • Jeremiah Buttram
  • Drew Durbin (FISH fellow)
  • Emily Kissinger
  • Peter McCullough
  • David Pettinato
  • Ethan Pitney
  • Brooke Whitehill


  • Rebecca Bentz
  • James Manser
  • Evelyn Nick
  • Grace O’Brien (FISH fellow)
  • Bailey Savoy
  • Patrick Tansill (FISH fellow)
Select Publications
  • McKenna, K.C. 2015. Splenectomy Restores Tumoricidal Activity to Promote Elimination of Intraocular Tumors. Oncoimmunol. 4:7, e1011516 July 2015
  • Miller, M.R., Mandel, J. B., Beatty, K.M, Harvey S. A. K., Rizzo, M. J., Previte, D. M., Thorne, S. H., McKenna, K.C. 2014. Splenectomy promotes indirect elimination of intraocular tumors by CD8+ T cells that is associated with IFNg- and Fas/FasL-dependent activation of intratumoral macrophages. Cancer Immunol. Res. 2(12); 1175-1185.
  • McKenna KC. Use of Aborted Fetal Tissue in Vaccines and Medical Research Obscures the Value of All Human Life. Linacre Q. 2018 Feb;85(1):13-17. Pubmed PMID: 29970932

Full List

  • McKenna KC, Tsuji M. 2018. Comment on, “ gd T cells are required for induction of sterile immunity during irradiated sporozoite vaccinations.” J Immunol. 2018 Mar 1;200(5):1533. Pubmed PMID: 29463687
Department Faculty