Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Julia Huffaker L&S Sciences

Impact of Sequences of Flavivirus Infections on Dengue Immunity

Dengue virus (DENV) is a viral disease endemic in subtropical and tropical regions that causes one of the most important mosquito-borne viral disease affecting humans, with around 50 million cases annually. Infections are caused by four genetically related but distinct serotypes, DENV1-4, which can lead to individuals becoming infected with multiple serotypes during their lifespan. Primary DENV or ZIKV infections generate antibodies that protect against infection from the same serotype, but they also lead to generation of cross-reactive antibodies that can increase the risk of a secondary symptomatic DENV infection and enhance dengue disease severity. Importantly, the mechanism by which the host immune response provides either protection or enhancement of subsequent infection is not fully understood. My research project aims to describe the complex profile of antibodies generated after primary DENV and ZIKV infection and fill important knowledge gaps regarding the understanding and prediction of epidemics and the development and evaluation of safe and effective dengue and Zika vaccines.

Message To Sponsor

I am so grateful to everyone who made this amazing opportunity a reality. From this experience, I have been able to learn new techniques and build on my passion for immunology. I'm so honored to have had these enriching experiences and can't wait to apply my new knowledge in my current lab and beyond.
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Major: Global Health and Ethics
Mentor: Eva Harris
Sponsor: Leadership Fund
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