Internship in Virology Research Lab at the University of San Francisco. June -August 2011.
During the summer of 2011, I engaged in a research internship at USF in San Francisco, CA. Our research focused on Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and its biomolecular interactions with the human immune system. HCMV is a species of herpesvirus known to infect over 70% of the US population and although it is typically inactive in most people, it can cause serious disease in individuals who are immune compromised, such as HIV or cancer patients. We examined how HCMV is able to evade the human immune system, focusing on the viral gene US27, which is thought to play an important role in suppressing the immune response. The objectives of the research were to investigate the impact of US27 on cell growth and survival, identify specific ligands that bind to US27, and to characterize downstream signaling events to better understand how hCMV is able to disturb cell signaling. I ran tests on transfected cell lines expressing US27, maintained cell cultures, and interpreted the results of various tests. Research Advisor: Dr. Juliet Spencer.
Laboratory Aide at Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center, University of California San Francisco. June 2012 – present.
I am currently working in the lab of Dr. Patricia Janak, Professor of Neurology at UCSF, where the focus of our research is on the neurobiological basis of addiction and alcoholism. We are using neurophysiological recording in awake, behaving rodents to examine neuron activity during the self-operant administration of alcohol and natural rewards. I am working on several projects, one in which I will be responsible for running the majority of the experiment under the supervision of a postdoctoral fellow. My study is examining how uncertainty in sensory cues predicting a reward is encoded in the brain at a neural level. I have learned a variety of neurobiology lab techniques and my general responsibilities include projects involving tissue histology, animal handling and surgery, electrophysiology, and optogenetics. I also am doing computer programming with MATLAB and MED-PC, for the purpose of experimental design and data analysis. Research Advisor: Dr. Patricia Janak.
Updated 5/3/13 JMV