Celebrating IGG Graduates
Please join us in our celebration as we highlight our IGG graduates.
The profiles are sectioned by degree type:
Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Title: Regulation of Selection and Central Tolerance by the N-Terminal Region of RAG1
Research and Lab Description: My thesis work examined non-canonical functions of the enzyme, RAG1, in T cell central tolerance and protection from autoimmunity. The Behrens lab has a broad research focus with a particular emphasis on understanding the role of genetic and environmental triggers that activate hyperinflammatory immune responses causing Cytokine Storm Syndromes.
Post PhD Plans: I am currently a post-doc in Dr. Laura Mackay’s lab at the Doherty Institute in Melbourne, Australia.
Mentor Comment: Dr. Burn demonstrated an unparalleled work ethic and creative scientific mind accomplishing and publishing on a diverse array projects related to Rag1 biology, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, and inflammatory pediatric liver failure. His work not only has implicated for basic biology, but is directly translatable to our understanding of comlpex human disease.
Thesis Title: Contribution of Non-Classical Antigen Presentation to CD4+ T Cells During Orthopoxvirus Infection
Research and Lab Description: I focused on non-canonical MHCII antigen presentation to CD4+ T cells during poxvirus infection and demonstrated that poxvirions are poor processing substrates for classical MHCII antigen presentation and that a mousepox virulence factor, C15, specifically inhibits endogenous MHCII antigen presentation post-peptide loading. The Eisenlohr lab is filled with collaborative, brilliant, and welcoming individuals; I could not have asked for a better group of people to work with and learn from during my graduate experience.
Post PhD Plans: I am currently a postdoc in Montserrat Anguera's lab at Penn Vet. I am studying the impact of dynamic X inactivation in female lymphocytes on immune responses to infection and in autoimmunity.
Mentor Comment: My first UPenn graduate student and it could not have started on a better note. Katherine single-handedly resuscitated an entire project, which is now thriving, while being instrumental in building up the lab to its current greatness. We are already missing Katherine’s infectious love of science, her considerable intellect and her wonderful sense of humor, and wishing for her the very best.
Thesis Title: Transcriptional Landscapes in Lymphocyte Development and Differentiation: TCF-1 Enforces Epigenetic Identity in Developing T cells and T-BET Resolves Functionally Distinct Memory B Cells
Research and Lab Description: In my thesis work I found the acquisition of the T cell identity during development is the unique function of TCF-1 to create accessible chromatin and establish a T cell gene program, and I also found that an important subset of memory B cells can be differentiated by the transcription factor T-bet and possesses special tissue residency properties. I completed my thesis in the lab of Dr. Michael Cancro where I strengthened my skills as an independent thinker and scientist.
Post PhD Plans: I will be doing a post-doc at Janssen R&D in Springhouse, PA where I will be studying long non-coding RNAs in Inflammatory Bowel Disease combining a computational discovery approach and traditional biological validation.
Mentor Comment: It has been a terrific experience to have John as one of my trainees; he took on projects with relish, thought hard and clearly about them, and was a strong and positive influence on his colleagues, collaborators and students. His work has opened new experimental and conceptual areas for us that we will hopefully be working on for some time. I’m thrilled that John is finishing up and moving to the next stage in his career.
Thesis Title: A Mendelian Disease of Autoimmunity Reveals GIMAP5 as a Novel Member of the Ragulator Complex
Post PhD Plans: Postdoc at the Broad Institute with Aviv Regev
Thesis Title: The Immunomodulatory Functions of Diacylglycerol Kinase Zeta on Type 2 Immune Responses
Research and Lab Description: My thesis work demonstrated that diacylglycerol kinase zeta promotes Th2 differentiation and airway smooth muscle contraction to potentiate type 2 immune-mediated airway diseases. The Kambayashi lab studies how regulation of immune cell signaling controls immune cell function to regulate tissue homeostasis and inflammatory diseases.
Post PhD Plans: Since graduating, I have begun a postdoc in Andy Chan's lab at Genentech where I have been studying the role of Rab GTPases and Rab guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEF) in regulating CD4+ T cell migration and Th effector function.
Mentor Comment: Brenal was fabulous in the lab. He is smart, caring, and giving. He was very independent and drove his project. In fact, I learned a lot from him myself. I have no doubt he will be a super scientist in the future.
Thesis Title: Regulation of Effective B Cell Responses to Chronic Infection
Post PhD Plans: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Merck
Thesis Title: Leucine Rich Repeat IG-Domain Containing NOGO Interacting Protein 3 (LINGO3) is a Novel Regulator of Mucosal Homeostasis
Research and Lab Description: My thesis research investigated a novel transmembrane protein, LINGO3, and its role during gastrointestinal homeostasis and injury. I completed my thesis in the lab of Dr. De'Broski Herbert which focuses on investigating immuno-regulatory and regenerative processes in mucosal immunology; the lab was like a family to me; a supportive environment allowing for my individual as well as scientific growth and even has its own mascot, Horatio! I miss them a ton but am looking forward to happy hour catch-ups.
Post PhD Plans: I am a Senior Consultant at Trinity Life Sciences, a consulting firm.
Mentor Comment: Kelly Zullo is a maverick. One of the most bright, tenacious and promising young women that I know. She took a chance on me and I took a chance on her at a time when we both needed to prove ourselves to the world that we were not only good enough, but among the best there is in the business. Kelly finished first in her class and I am the proudest mentor at the University of Pennsylvania. She has what it takes to be a leader among leaders in this forever changing post-COVID world. I wish you all the best my first lab daughter.
Combined Degree, MD-PhD
Thesis Title: Tumor-Derived Retinoic Acid Regulates Intratumoral Monocyte Differentiation to Promote Immune Suppression
Research and Lab Description: My thesis work uncovered that solid tumors produce high levels of the metabolite retinoic acid to polarize intratumoral monocyte differentiation towards macrophage and away from dendritic cell. The Haldar Lab studies the intersection between the innate immune system and solid tumors.
Post PhD Plans: Return to medical school and continue to pursue a career in academic medicine.
Mentor Comment: Samir is the first graduating student from our lab! Along with his own project related to the role of retinoic acid signaling in tumor immunity, he has made numerous key contributions to many other projects in the lab. He is intelligent, inquisitive, and collaborative. His presence will be missed by all in the lab.
Thesis Title: The HMG Transcription Factor TOX Induces a Transcriptional and Epigenetic Program of CD8+ T Cell Exhaustion in Chronic Infection and Cancer
Post PhD Plans: Director, Cellular Immunology, ArsenalBio
Thesis Title: Comparative Structure-Function Analysis of the BET Epigenetic Reader Family
Research and Lab Description: I studied how individual members of the BET protein family function distinctly on chromatin to regulate transcription. The Blobel lab studies molecular mechanisms regulating hematopoiesis.
Post PhD Plans: Medical school completion