PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
HIV Transcriptional Regulation
After HIV enters the host's immune cells, it turns its RNA genome into DNA and integrates that into the host's genome. From there, it hijacks the host's transcriptional machinery to produce more copies of itself. HIV does this by mimicking strategies used by the host but co-opts them for its own advantages. There are many players that are involved in this process from both the host and the virus with decades of research on the topic so you can feel free to delve into studying one molecule or the entire process as a whole. Also, this represents the only phase the HIV-1 lifecycle that does not have any current treatment options so we can also explore how we might go about developing treatments.
The blood-brain barrier is one of the most highly regulated parts of our bodies to ensure that harmful substances do not get into the brain. Pathogens have developed a number of strategies to break past these defenses and change an organism's behavior, often for their own benefit. The molecular mechanisms of how a brain-eating amoeba or the creation of real-life zombie organisms are fascinating and still being uncovered and there are plenty of examples of how pathogens manipulate behavior to choose from that we can use to develop really cool creative projects!