Laurent Coscoy

Closed (1) Interactions between viruses and the immune response of their hosts

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a herpesvirus that infects 60% of adults in developed countries and more than 90% in developing countries. Usually, it is controlled by a vigorous immune response so infections are usually asymptomatic or symptoms are mild. However, if the immune system is compromised (for example in people undergoing graft transplant or suffering from AIDS), HCMV can replicate to high levels and cause serious end organ disease. As a consequence of the difficulties associated with studies of HCMV pathogenesis in humans, infection of mice with the mouse cytomegalovirus (MCMV) has been used as a model for HCMV infection. The overall long-term goal of the Coscoy laboratory is to understand the interaction between HCMV and MCMV and the resulting immune response of their hosts and thus improve our understanding of HCMV pathogenesis and provide insight into basic cellular and immunological processes. Additionally, this could lead to new-antiviral strategies and the ability to exploit viral function as a tool with medical relevance. We invite highly motivated undergraduate students to apply. Three research positions are available. Selected students will work toward understanding how MCMV manipulates the immune response of its host for its own benefit.

As a member of the Coscoy lab, you will learn techniques such as cloning, tissue culture, transfection and transduction, FACS, Western blot, amplifying and tittering viruses, and finally how to generate viral mutants. Most importantly, you will gain experience in experimental design and execution, as well as data analysis.

Qualifications: The applicant should be curious, detail-oriented, punctual, highly motivated, and have a responsible and positive attitude in the lab. He/she/they should not be afraid to ask questions. The student is expected to be interested in reading research articles, maintain a well-organized research notebook, and write down protocols. This position is recommended for those interested in molecular biology and cell biology especially as it pertains to immunology and infectious diseases. Although previous research experience is valuable, no previous research experience is necessary, but real passion for research is expected. Students should be able to devote a minimum of 12 hours/week to laboratory experiments and discussion. Sophomores or Juniors (with the expectation that they will work towards an honors thesis in their senior year) are preferred; but we would be open to considering seniors with experience. General biology knowledge and strong academics are required. There is no possibility for virtual work, all work will be done in our laboratory (located in Weill Hall).

Weekly Hours: 12 or more hours