Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology
John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
651 Ilalo Street, Bioscience Building 320
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Research Mentor: Lishomwa C. Ndhlovu, MD. PhD.
Research Areas: Immune Dysfunction, Immunosenescence, and Inflammation in HIV infection.
Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a scientist. About a year ago, I received a time capsule letter in the mail from my 9-year-old-self writing to the future me. In the letter I stated, “When I grow up I want to be a scientist and live in a mansion”. Ever since then, I’ve taken the steps toward becoming a scientist; however not so much towards owning a mansion.
During my high school years, I completed an extracurricular biotechnology program, which sparked a scientist within me. The program introduced basic laboratory techniques and experiments, which I fell in love with. Then, I went on to complete a Bachelor of Science in Biology, with a concentration of Microbiology, at San Francisco State University. The coursework completed during my undergraduate studies gave me an in depth understanding of bacteria, algae, protozoa, fungi, and viruses in terms of their ecology, biochemistry, physiology, genetics, and their role in disease progression.
After receiving my undergraduate degree, I joined the UCSF Core Immunology Laboratory (CIL), based at San Francisco General Hospital. It was there that I was exposed to state-of-the-art immune phenotyping and functional analysis for a wide range of clinical research projects. I quickly acquired the skills to design complex multi-parametric flow cytometry panels and develop assays that answered unknown translational immunological questions about disease pathogenesis, progression, and therapeutic treatments.
With my advanced flow cytometry skills, I moved to Hawai’i to start-up the Immunology Genetics laboratory (IGL) directed by Drs. Jason Barbour and Lishomwa Ndhlovu. IGL is located at the University of Hawai’i Manoa, in the Department of Tropical Medicine. Over the past 2 years, we’ve collaborated with sites around the world to study the infectious disease progression of HIV, HTLV-1, West Nile Virus, and Dengue Fever. By focusing on T cell dysfunction, immunesenescence, and immune inflammation, we hope to identify novel targets for immunotherapy.
To advance my career as an immunology research scientist, I enrolled in the Department of Tropical Medicine M.S. program. I am truly excited to be joining the department as a graduate student and look forward to the possibilities of new research areas. With my strong understanding in flow cytometry and ability to learn and adapt to new techniques and technology I hope to share my knowledge and help others answer unknown questions about immunology.
San Francisco State University. 2009, B.S. – Biology (Microbiology)
University of Hawai’i at Manoa. 2013 – Present, M.S. candidate Tropical Medicine
2009-2011 – Staff Research Associate I, Core Immunology Laboratory, Division of Experimental Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
2011-2013 – Immunology Research Associate, Immunology Genetics Laboratory, Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology, and Pharmacology, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
2013-Present – Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology, and Pharmacology, University of Hawai’i at Manoa
Interest & Hobbies
I have a high affinity for science and technology. I enjoy taking things apart, in order to figure out how they work, both mechanical and biological. For example, with my first car, I naïvely took apart the suspension to add aftermarket performance parts. Unfortunately, my car was out of commission as I pieced it back together, but after a few scraped knuckles and a couple of weeks, my car was back up and running. From that experience, I learned not only how the car absorbs impact from the road, but about how the suspension affects the cars ability to accelerate, brake, and corner. The same curiosity applies to my laboratory experiments. I love being able to manipulate cells in-vitro to see how intracellular signaling pathways are affected, cell to cell interactions are mediated, or potential effector functions can be blunted or restored.
In addition to my curiosity, I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experiences with others. I was a mentor in the “Bridge to Biotech” program offered by the City College of San Francisco. The program trains students who are new to science for exciting careers as technicians and lab assistants in at biotech companies and academic institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area. Also, in January of 2013 I secured a travel grant from the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) at the Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. I was grateful to have the opportunity to join them in Japan, and was successfully able to teach them how to use flow cytometry to study retroviruses and their effects on human immunology. If anybody has a question, problem, or concern they usually come to me first and I am always happy to help.
Publications & Presentations
Kiera L. Clayton, Matthew S. Haaland, Matthew Douglas-Vail, Shariq Mujib, Glen M. Chew, Lishomwa C. Ndhlovu and Mario A Ostrowski. “T cell Ig and Mucin Domain-Containing Protein 3 is Recruited to the Immune Synapse, Disrupts Stable Synapse Formation, and Associates with Receptor Phosphastases” J Immunology. 2013 Dec. PMID: 24337741
Haorile Chagan-Yasutan, Lishomwa C. Ndhlovu, Talitha Lea Lacuesta, Toru Kubo, Prisca Suasan A. Leani, Toshiro Niki, Shigeru Oguma, Kouichi Morita, Glen M. Chew, Jason D. Barbour, Elizabeth Freda O. Telan, Mitsuomi Hirashima, Toshio Hattori, Efren M. Dimaano. “Galectin-9 Plasma Levels Reflect Adverse Hematological and Immunological Features in Acute Dengue Virus Infection” J Clin Virol. 2013 Dec. PMID: 24239423
Lishomwa C. Ndhlovu, Fabio E. Leal, Aaron M. Hasenkrug, Aashish R. Jha, Karina I. Carvalho, Ijeoma G. Eccles-James, Fernanda R. Bruno, Raphaella G. S. Vieira, Vanessa A. York, Glen M. Chew, Brad R. Jones, Yuetsu Tanaka, Walter K. Neto, Sabri S. Sanabani, Mario A. Ostrowski, Aluisio C. Segurado, Douglas F. Nixon, Esper G. Kallas. “HTLV-1 TAX Specific CD8+ T Cells Express Low Levels of TIM-3 in HTLV-1 Infection: Implications for Progression to Neurological Complications”. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2011 Apr. PMID: 21541358