Author: Sheryl Rosen

Andrew Harrison Receives the 2021 Lepow Award

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.

Andrew Harrison holding an award certificate standing on the right next to Penghua Wang

Evan Jellison Receives 2021 Osborn Award for Excellence in Biomedical Science Graduate Teaching

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.

Evan Jellison, Ph.D.

Ashley Russo Receives 2021 Henderson Award for Ph.D. Thesis

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.

Ashley Russo standing next to Dr. Vijay Rathinam

Jianbin Ruan Paper Accepted for Publication in Nature

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.

Jianbin Ruan, Ph.D.

Vijay Rathinam Paper Accepted in Nature Immunology

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.

Dr. Vijay Rathinam standing next to Ashley Russo

Sivapriya Kailasan Vanaja Paper Accepted in Science Immunology

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.

Sivapriya Kailasan Vanaja, Ph.D., D.V.M.