Andrew Harrison received the 2021 Lepow Award at the Graduate Student Research Day. This award, established in 1986 in honor of Dr. Irwin H. Lepow, a well-known faculty member, researcher and founding father of UConn Health, is given to the outstanding fourth-year student in the Biomedical Science Ph.D. Program. Andrew studies under the mentorship of Dr. Penghua Wang.
Dr. Evan Jellison, associate professor in the Department of Immunology, was selected as the 2021 recipient of the Osborn Award for Excellence in Biomedical Science Graduate Teaching. The intention of this award is to recognize a UConn Health Graduate School faculty member for his or her commitment to providing the best education in the classroom and training in the laboratory.
Ashley Russo received the 2021 Henderson Award at the annual Graduate Student Research Day. This prize was established in memory of Edward G. Henderson, Ph.D., a faculty member in the Department of Pharmacology from 1968 to 1997. Dr. Henderson is remembered for his commitment to graduate education and his dedication to the supervision of graduate students. Ashley studied under the mentorship of Dr. Vijay Rathinam.
Congratulations to Dr. Zhichao Fan on the award of his Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Pilot Program grant entitled, Impact of CFTR in monocyte adhesion and integrin function.
Congratulations to Dr. Kepeng Wang on the award of his NIH R01 grant through the National Cancer Institute entitled, Control of regulatory T cells by IL-17 in colorectal cancer.
Congratulations to graduate student Blake Torrance for receiving the American Association of Immunologists Trainee Abstract Award for 2021. Blake’s research focuses on how senescence impacts T cell responses to influenza infection.
In this paper, Gasdermin D pore structure reveals preferential release of mature interleukin-1, Ruan and collaborators reported the cryo-EM structure of human Gasdermin D (GSDMD) pore, an inflammatory cell death executioner molecule, at 3.9 Å resolution. GSDMD pore exhibits large differences in symmetry and dimensions from the previously reported GSDMA3, a mouse homolog. Beyond the structure of the human GSDMD pore, the paper also demonstrated that GSDMD forms an acidic shield that directly regulates IL-1 secretion via a charge-based mechanism. This discovery will facilitate future investigation into the GSDMD secretome and, to our knowledge, first proposes how large transmembrane pores may achieve substrate selectivity. This study is a collaborative effort between Dr. Ruan’s lab and the laboratories of Wu and Lieberman at Harvard Medical School, the laboratory of Greka at Broad Institute of MIT, and the laboratory of Jacobson at the University of California San Francisco.
In an article entitled “Intracellular immune sensing promotes inflammation via gasdermin D-driven release of a lectin alarmin” published in Nature Immunology, Dr. Vijay Rathinam’s lab discovered a sugar-binding protein called galectin-1 as bona fide danger molecule that is released during excessive cell death promoting "cytokine storm" and inflammation during sepsis. The findings from the study advances our understanding of pathogenic mechanisms in sepsis, the leading cause of death for patients in the intensive care unit with 270,000 deaths annually in the US. and lay the foundation for identifying novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets in sepsis. This study was led by Dr. Ashley Russo, a previous graduate student in the Rathinam lab and involved key collaborations with the laboratories of Vella, Menoret, Zhou, Ruan, and Vanaja in the Department of Immunology as well as additional labs in University of Florida, Jena University Hospital, Germany and the Experimental Medicine and Biology Institute, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Congratulations to Dr. Sivapriya Kailasan Vanaja for having a paper from her lab, Shiga toxin suppresses noncanonical inflammasome responses to cytosolic LPS, accepted for publication in Science Immunology. The paper first authored by Morena Mendonca, a postdoctoral fellow in the Kailasan Vanaja lab, demonstrates that Shiga toxin, a primary virulence factor of Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli, suppresses cytosolic LPS-mediated inflammasome responses by inhibiting the cleavage of gasdermin D. The findings from this study provide insights into the mechanisms by which bacterial pathogens modulate the host innate immune responses to successfully establish an infection.
Congratulations to Dr. Penghua Wang on the award of his R21 grant through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases entitled, A critical role for UBXN3B in IgG homeostasis and maternal transfer.