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2015 SRE Project

Exploring Stressors in the Host-Pathogen Interaction: Can a Host Use Self-Harming Defenses to Adequately Protect Itself?

Dr. Judy Day
Edmund LeGrand
Graduate Assistant: Buddhi Pantha

Januka Khanal (Biology - Micro/Molecular and Chemistry, Southeastern Louisiana Univ.)
Michael Rohly (Mathematics & Biology, Columbus State Univ.)
Nick Sirek (Honors Biology and Geology Teacher, L&N STEM Academy)
Talon Johnson (Mathematics, Morehouse College)

photo. The fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis is an invasive pathogen that can exist as spores in the environment and can be inoculated into the skin. It is responsible for the disease blastomycosis which can present as a surface infection of skin. If not treated properly and aggressively, the spreading infection could be fatal. Both immune cells and pathogens require nutrients and other resources as well as a hospitable environment to live, grow, and function. One strategy that a host can use to fight invasive pathogens like Blastomyces dermatitidisis is to create a toxic environment for the pathogens and to limit resources needed by pathogens to survive and grow. However, the host cells will also be affected by such non-specific stressors. Fever is one such example of a non-specific stressor working at a systemic level. Surprisingly, the mechanism of how fever actually works is not clearly established. Despite the advances in biomedical technology, a number of basic questions regarding non-specific host defense mechanisms have been ignored. This project will expand upon a current agent based computational model (ABM) or develop a new ABM or equations-based model to investigate these interesting mechanisms. The project will involve mathematical/computational modeling, mathematical analysis as appropriate, and programming using appropriate environments for model simulation.

Abstract of project report (PDF)

Project group (from L): Dr. Judy Day, Buddhi Pantha, Talon Johnson, Mathematics, Morehouse College, Ed LeGrand, Januka Khanal, Biology - Micro/Molecular and Chemistry, Southeastern Louisiana Univ., Nick Sirek, Honors Biology and Geology Teacher, L&N STEM Academy, and Michael Rohly, Mathematics and Biology, Columbus State Univ.

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NSF logo. NIMBioS is sponsored by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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