Students Receive Graduate School Dissertation Research Grants

Pamelia Lim (MCB PhD - Rothchild lab) and Sue (Xiaosu) Miao (ABBS PhD - Cui lab) have recently been awarded Graduate School Dissertation Research Grants.

Pamelia is interested in studying innate sensing functions of alveolar macrophages (AMs) in both naive and infected conditions, and characterizing subpopulations of AMs that are differentially targeted by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) during infection. Currently, she is focused on characterizing deficiencies in AM sensing as it relates to several pattern associated molecular patterns and applying this knowledge to interrogate the mechanisms behind why AMs fail to generate an inflammatory response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis within the first 10 days of infection in vivo. The funds from the Graduate School Predissertation Research Grant will be used to investigate how the alveolar niche changes during MTb infection by generating a fate-mapping mouse model to track in situ the origin, distribution, and interrogate the phenotype of alveolar macrophages after MTb infection.

Sue is exploring the function of Berberine in the early stages of mouse embryo development. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common types of female infertility. The main causes of PCOS are thought to be inflammation and oxidative stress, which lead to metabolic and ovarian dysfunction. Presently, the available treatments for PCOS are effective in only a subset of patients. And many patients experience severe side effects to the prescribed drugs. The lack of therapeutic options has led to the search for complementary and alternative treatments, such as herbal medicines. Berberine (BER), a natural isoquinoline alkaloid compound from the herbal roots, has recently been applied in clinical trials for PCOS patients undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles. It has been reported that BER can improve the blastocyte rate and inhibit apoptosis during mouse embryo development with dose dependence. However, the detailed mechanisms underlying the improvement are still largely unknown and the appropriate concentrations of BER on embryo development under inflammatory conditions (such as PCOS) and its mechanism need to be explored further.  The funds from the Graduate School Predissertation Research Grant will be used to better understand the role of BER in PCOS.  A mouse model that mimics those characteristics of PCOS will be designed to study the early embryo development under the treatment of BER in vitro as well as in vivo.