Credentials: Cellular and Molecular Biology Graduate Program/MD
Position title: D. O'CONNOR LABORATORY
Research Title: Defining Shared and Distinct Anti-Viral Antibody Responses and Discerning How these Responses Contribute to Protection or to Pathology
Research Description: To date, immunological interactions between heterologous members of the family Flaviviridae, a group of viruses with significant public health impacts, are not well understood. Anna Heffron’s research focuses on deepening our mechanistic understanding of host-pathogen immunological interactions in flavivirus infections and illuminating possible translational directions for diagnostic and vaccine development. The knowledge gained from Anna’s work will better position researchers and clinicians to combat the growing burden of emerging and re-emerging flaviviruses and other infectious pathogens globally. During her first year of graduate study Anna used a novel ultradense peptide microarray to profile antibody binding and cross-reactive binding in macaques with known infection histories and in human populations with unknown infection histories. Anna now plans to pursue more thorough study of the more interesting results from these preliminary studies, examining cross-reactive immunological interactions in flavivirus infections using cell and molecular biology-based techniques.