Vinicius de Andrade-Oliveira, Ph.D.


Short-term infections can sometimes trigger chronic disorders, such as Crohn’s disease and even diabetes. When the body is under microbial attack, immune cells rush to the infected tissue and mount an attack on the invader. But the aftermath of this molecular and cellular immune response can linger long after the pathogen has been eliminated. Mice that are orally infected with a microbe retain activated immune cells in their abdomen, build up fat in their body, and show elevated levels of cholesterol even after the infection has been cleared. In the Belkaid lab, I will assess whether short-term infection alters the metabolism of activated immune cells and how they interact with other microorganisms at a later time by using sophisticated molecular and cellular technologies. Further, I will investigate whether these metabolically reprogrammed immune cells can initiate chronic, long-standing inflammation. The work could lead to novel treatments for chronic conditions such as Crohn’s disease, metabolic syndrome, or diabetes.

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