- Adviser: Michael A. Barry, Ph.D.
- Areas of emphasis: Molecular virology, oncolysis and gene therapy
- Research area: Engineering oral gene-delivery systems
What are your research interests?
Because most pathogens enter the body at mucosal surfaces, it makes strategic sense for vaccines to be delivered to generate protective immune responses at these mucosal sites. Vaccines that can be swallowed or administered into the mouth can generate this needed protection and have the advantage of being simple and practical for global use.
While oral vaccines can be effective, this route can destroy many vaccines, making them less effective. To try to address this need, my work in Dr. Barry's lab focuses on engineering methods of delivering agents, including adenovirus and adeno-associated viruses to the gut.
Why did you choose Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences' Virology and Gene Therapy track?
While I have truly enjoyed working in all areas of biology, viruses have always seemed to excite me.
In Mayo Clinic's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, I had the opportunity to listen to Roberto Cattaneo, Ph.D., present his research on the measles virus. I was intrigued by how his lab was able to determine the mechanism by which the virus utilizes the protein nectin-4 to exit the body and be aerosolized.
I again had the opportunity to listen to his research history on Vincent Racaniello's netcast "This Week in Virology" (TWiV) and to see an updated version of his talk at a summer symposium at the University of Minnesota, where I worked as a junior scientist.
Each time I heard Dr. Cattaneo speak about his work, I found myself more fascinated and more eager to begin working in the field of virus research. I became interested in investigating viruses because the research utilizes biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology and genetics — all fields that hold my interest — to find answers with direct applications to human health.
The Virology and Gene Therapy track at Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences provided the best opportunity to integrate these overlapping fields into my work as a virologist, while maintaining a focus on human health.
- Engineering oral gene-delivery systems for vaccination. Poster presented at: Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Student Symposium; Rochester, Minn.
Nov. 17, 2015