|Class of 2001
Graduated in 2006
|Undergraduate Institution: Mount Allison University (Canada) and University of British Columbia (Canada)
Major: BSc. Physics and MSc. Physics
Origin: Sackville, NB, Canada
|Lab: Jay Groves
Location: Lewis 106 (Tel: 643-4847)
The connection between spatial organization of membrane proteins and biochemical signalling is a research area which has attracted increasing interest in recent years. I am working toward a better understanding of the "immune synapse", a model system for the study of this theme. I culture helper T cells from mice and observe them as they form synapses with artificial membranes; I focus on certain signalling events which occur early in synapse formation. Using substrates which have been patterned by electron beam lithography, I impose nanoscale barriers to the freedom of motion of lipids and proteins in the artificial membrane. Proteins in the T cell membrane, specifically the T cell receptor (TCR) and the integrin LFA-1, bind their ligands in the partitioned membrane, and are constrained by the barriers such that synapse formation is "frustrated", or arrested at an intermediate stage. Currently I am working to determine the relation between the size of TCR clusters and the subsequent signalling response, which I observe in the form of phosphorylated ZAP-70 (a critical early signalling intermediate).