Two School of Medicine Beirne B. Carter Center for Immunology Doctoral Students Awarded Research Grants

September 5, 2023 by

Dana May and Harish Narasimhan

Dana May (left) and Harish Narasimhan

Two School of Medicine Beirne B. Carter Center for Immunology doctoral students were awarded grants to further their research in the areas of brain endothelial dysfunction and respiratory viral infections.

Dana May, a PhD candidate in the Sarah Ewald Lab, was awarded a $141,141 R35 diversity supplement grant to further her studies of cachexia, or the inflammatory loss of lean body mass, which is a leading predictor of morbidity across chronic diseases. A major driver of cachexia is persistent central nervous system (CNS) inflammation driven by IL-1R signaling. Dana will test the role the IL-1R signaling axis plays in regulating parasite growth in endothelial cells. She also aims to determine the mechanism of parasite entry into the brain and test the hypothesis that regional differences in parasite load are associated with local susceptibility to infection and/or spatial regulation of immune reactivity. Understanding the role of the IL-1 axis in cachexia will improve the life span and comfort of patients suffering from a wide range of debilitating chronic diseases. Read more about May’s research.

Harish Narasimhan, MHS, a microbiology PhD candidate in the Jie Sun Lab, was awarded a $121,136 F31 grant to study age-associated features responsible for the development and maintenance of chronic pulmonary sequelae following acute respiratory viral infections. His overall hypothesis for his research is that CD8+ TRM cells persisting in aged lungs following viral pneumonia contribute to chronic IL-1β release and thus impair Krt8+ transitional cell differentiation to promote dysplastic lung repair. Understanding this immune-epithelial progenitor interaction would deepen fundamental understanding of the role of the immune system in alveolar regeneration and lung repair. Moreover, the proposed studies would pave the way for developing therapeutic strategies to promote functional repair of aged lungs following severe viral pneumonia. Read more about Narasimhan’s research.

Filed Under: Research