Alayna Caffrey

Ph.D. candidate in Microbiology & Immunology

Caffrey researches the early immune response against Aspergillus fumigatus, a common mold that can be found in soil or compost piles. The mold causes severe lung infections in people with weakened immune systems, perhaps compromised by leukemia, chemotherapy or organ transplants. The death rate from Aspergillus fumigatus ranges from 30 to 90 percent, depending on the population. To help lower that percentage and understand what goes wrong in weakened immune systems, Caffrey studies healthy immune systems to see how they respond to Aspergillus fumigatus. She has discovered that a molecule called IL-la is critical for recruiting white blood cells to an infection site. Read more…

 

Daniel Willems

Ph.D. candidate in Chemistry & Biochemistry

Willems studies lipid abnormalities in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and Type 2 diabetes, all which may be related to disregulation of metabolism. Lipid disregulation has been implicated in many brain disorders such as AD, Parkinson’s, depression and anxiety. Willems has developed an effective set of protocols to extract and analyze the lipid fraction of metabolites found in many tissues. By applying these techniques to human brain tissue, he can search for early biomarkers of the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Further, he hopes to be able to detect these biomarkers in blood plasma at relevant levels and early detection in blood would be a key to better treatment and prolonged life. Read more…