Fungus and Mice

“What did you do this summer?”

The Public Health Research Institute (PHRI) at the International Center for Public Health (ICPH) is a research facility for infectious diseases, residing in the Newark campus of the New Jersey Medical School (NJMS). Now acquired by Rutgers University, it’s primary mission serves to understand and overcome global infectious diseases.

This summer, I was given the opportunity to intern in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. Working under the supervision of Eliseo Eugenin’s laboratory, I am currently conducting research on an airborne fungal pathogen called Cryptococcus neoformans.  

Yes, I have an Elevator Pitch…

If this fungus is inhaled by immuno-compromised patients, (such as those infected with HIV or METH users) the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) will be penetrated, resulting in cellular and cognitive damage. Using in vivo mice models, I am studying both brain and liver tissues to determine if different fungal strains of Cryptococcus neoformans and other paracellular mechanisms cause apoptosis (cell death) of micro-vascular endothelial cells found in the BBB. In summary, my research focuses on whether or not the GXM fungal capsule is the major component responsible for BBB disruption and CNS destruction.

“Ever to Excel” is a daily routine.

From taking rigorous science courses to handling multiple jobs and positions, Boston College has successfully prepared me for the world of work. With challenging coursework and ever rising expectations, my education has given me the scientific knowledge and research skills needed to become an analytical thinker in the lab. Thus, throughout my time at PHRI, I have been able to alter and improve procedures, seek multiple perspectives, and assess unforeseen outcomes.

A Jesuit education from Boston College is distinct from anywhere else in the world because Ignatian spirituality is instilled within the growth of the person. Women & Men for Others: BC has made me aware that the interpersonal skills are what truly matter.  Constantly asking questions develops connections with other employees and allows me to learn from their life experiences. Cura Personalis: Inside the laboratory, I am working with a team; therefore, being able to effectively listen and communicate with others ensures both safety and progression. Magis:  The daily mission to learn and to do more throughout this summer internship.

Visit PHRI

Written by Sofia Ribeiro, BC Class of 2018


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