Student NameNicole Bender
Faculty Mentor NameRhoel Dinglasan
CollegeCollege of Veterinary Medicine
Research InterestsImmunology, infectious diseases, tropical medicine
OrganizationsHeal the World, American Physician Scientist's Association
Hobbies and InterestsHiking, swimming, dogs,
Academic AwardsBright Futures Academic Scholar, Dean's List 2017-2018

Research Project

Role of CD4+ T Cell Exhaustion in a Pan-Malarial Transmission Blocking Vaccine Microparticle Boosting Strategy

Malaria is a devastating vector-borne disease caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium and causes roughly 435,000 deaths a year. In Sub-Saharan Africa where Malaria is most prevalent, a lack of access to healthcare may inhibit the effectiveness of vaccines that require frequent boosters. To address this issue, our lab is developing a novel malaria transmission-blocking vaccine delivery technology that enables long term protection from a single inoculation. This is done using biodegradable microparticles (bMP’s) loaded with our antigen and adjuvant. When injected subcutaneously into the muscle, they form a depot, and through controlling the rate at which the bMP’s degrade we hope to be able to continuously and controllably provide boosting after only seeing the patient once. My project aims to characterize how T follicular helper cells interact with out boosting strategy, as they play an integral role in developing transmission blocking antibodies. As it has previously been shown that continuous exposure to an antigen may result in T cell exhaustion, I plan to determine the role T cell exhaustion plays, if any, in our boosting strategy.