It is time that I introduce more in depth what my research is about. As you can tell from my last post and the title of this post, my research utilizes mice. However, the main focus is not the mice, but instead the immune system of mice. My lab studies a unique fungus called Cryptococcus neoformans. You may not have heard of this fungus, however unfortunately it causes upwards of 600,000 deaths, many in Africa with individuals who have compromised immune systems. However, this fungus is almost everywhere in the world and both you and I have most likely come in contact with it, we just have not gotten sick. Since this fungus kills so many people it is important we study it.
However, back to the mice: my lab is the first lab to develop a model that simulates the fight against the fungus within the brains of humans. This is very important because the fungus is unique in the sense that it starts in the lungs but then travels to the brain where it causes massive inflammation and death. Because we can reenact this in mice we have learned many interesting things about the fungus and about the immune system in relation to the brain in general too. I now specifically study a certain white blood cell that travels to the brain during infection and how it interacts with this fungus.
The first year to two years in the lab were a very big crash course on introductory immunology, and if you know one thing about the field of immunology its that it is massive and still growing. However, this internship has given me the independence to not only read and regurgitate knowledge but make inferences based on previous studies and what I have learned about immunology. I have learned vast amount of material, however after all the bench work and literature it is nice that I still get to use my hands and actually work with the mice because thinking of white blood cells and chemicals can be very tiresome. So for that, I thank the mice for giving me a break from breaking my brain. Attached is an image of part of the room and the cages that the furry little creatures get to live in until they get to be killed– kinda morbid but it’s all for science!!