Chalk talks: Scientific crossroads

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the chalk talks this week. From the lipid rafts in the cell to research on the Cryptococcus fungus and the Trehalose pathway, I was able to truly gain a deeper understanding of a broad variety of research interests within BSURF. Coming into this program, I was under the assumption that most of us would be researching very similar topics and therefore the integration of biology with engineering and ecology has been especially refreshing.

I found Ajile’s topic especially interesting as she took the time to explain the role of antibodies in HIV research in a manner I had not heard before. According to her research, bnAps are potent antibodies that have the ability to neutralize the HIV virus. The problem with bnAps is that they do not last for a long time in the body as they tend to aggregate and they do not have the ability to remove antigens from the body. Basically, she studies the effect of variant pH levels in different buffers. If the bnAps are able to withstand the conditions within the buffers, this would elude to the fact that they might be able to last for a longer time in the body. The importance of her research on a broader scale is that these antibodies can be used to create therapeutic drugs that slow down the progression of HIV. Malaria and HIV continue to be the leading causes of death in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region I call home, and therefore the progression of research on both fronts is not only impressive, but encouraging for the future.

I was overall very impressed with everyone’s chalk talks and I would love to learn more about each project especially as we begin to receive results or come up with conclusions. The implications of these projects are wide and it is an honor to work with people who are passionate about scientific inquiries that are yet to be answered.

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