Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Tiffany (Ting-Wei) Pai L&S Biological Sciences

Illuminating Immune Cell Motility Strategies with Optogenetic Viruses

Insect-borne viral diseases such as Zika and Dengue cause over 700,000 deaths annually (1). For transmission to occur, the virus must spread within the insect and evade an antiviral response from the insect immune system (2). While pathways of the antiviral response are known, the mechanisms by which insect immune cells migrate to infected cells are poorly understood, limiting our ability to identify molecular targets for controlling disease outbreaks. In this work, we will determine whether insect immune cells migrate to virus-infected cells by crawling or by transport in the blood, and whether these motility patterns depend on the severity or location of the infection. We will do this by using live imaging methods to track fluorescent immune cells in fruit fly larvae, a model vector. To precisely control infection timing and location, we will combine genetically-encoded virus replicons with temperature-dependent and optogenetic expression systems.

Message To Sponsor

Thank you, I am really grateful for your support. Receiving this fellowship would enable me to dedicate my summer to full-time research. I am really excited for the opportunity to conduct my own research project–Illuminating Immune Cell Motility Strategies with Optogenetic Viruses–which would not only add to the incredible learning experience I’m receiving at Berkeley, but also have a significant impact on my pursuit in scientific knowledge in my career onwards.
Profile image of Tiffany (Ting-Wei) Pai
Major: Molecular and Cell Biology, Music
Mentor: Hernan Garcia
Sponsor: Pergo
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