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LVC Year-Long Research Experience Sharon George and Dr. Cutler

Dr. Cutler, Dr. Xin, and Sharon George.

Sharon George is a New Orleans native and recent graduate of Tulane University, where she majored in Neuroscience and Spanish. She entered the summer internship program in 2008 with no laboratory experience, but plenty of enthusiasm for vaccine research. She had previously done extensive community service work in under-privileged communities where she initially became interested in immunology and vaccine studies.

Sharon worked with Dr. James Cutler during the summer of 2008 and remained in his lab, continuing her research project throughout the year. The focus of her work was to investigate established and novel adjuvant systems that could be useful in humans for initiation of clinical trials for our vaccine against candidiasis.

The results of her work are important to us, as she was able to rule-out the use of some adjuvants, but she also found at least one adjuvant system that is showing some potential. If the results continue to be encouraging in up-coming experiments, she will be one of the co-authors on a manuscript to be submitted for publication in a rigorously peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Sharon presented some of her findings at the Southwest Medical Mycology Meetings held in New Orleans last November. The two-day annual event was well-attended by about 50 scientists from Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Sharon’s work was received with interest and enthusiasm.

Dr. Cutler recently submitted a grant application to the National Center for Research Resources of the NIH for a COBRE (Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence). In that application, five junior faculty members were selected who will receive research project support if the COBRE is funded.

One of the junior faculty is Dr. Hong Xin, who served as co-mentor for Sharon and who is a member of my laboratory. The results of Sharon’s project prompted us to include her work in the Preliminary Data section of Dr. Xin’s project and the essence of Sharon’s efforts have been incorporated into one of the specific aims of Hong’s project.