Presently, I am a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the University Program in Genetics & Genomics at Duke University.
With the longstanding goal of engaging in biological research, I pursued wet lab opportunities throughout my undergraduate career, starting when I began my B.S. in Molecular Biology at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in 2015. My primary research position throughout college involved investigating inflammatory signaling and autophagy in breast and prostate cancer cell lines under the mentorship of Dr. Nikki Delk at UTD.
Beyond research at UTD, I had the unique opportunity to conduct research in Europe. In 2017, I travelled to Dublin, Ireland to work at the Trinity Translational Medicine Institute under Dr. Mark Little, studying ANCA-associated vasculitis and assisting with the Rare Kidney Disease Registry & Biobank. Next, I flew to Marburg, Germany to work at the Universitätsklinikum Gießen und Marburg under Dr. Jörg Hänze, studying blood RNA biomarkers of prostate cancer. In 2018, I was hired as a Pasteur Foundation Summer Intern and conducted research in Paris, France at the Institut Pasteur under Drs. Xavier Montagutelli and Jean Jaubert. My work, which ultimately became my capstone project, contributed to the identification of the Itgal gene in the Collaborative Cross mouse strain CC042 as a contributing factor to Salmonella typhimurium susceptibility, a gene that was later connected to Mycobacterium tuberculosis susceptibility by Dr. Clare Smith.
My experience at the Pasteur Institute sparked my passion for the dynamic interface of host and pathogen, more specifically an interest in dry lab techniques, such as QTL mapping and gene clustering, and a curiosity about the contribution of host genetic diversity to the symptoms and prognoses of infectious diseases. Now that I am studying at Duke, I am pursuing my Ph.D. under the excellent mentorship of Dr. Clare Smith. I am excited to continue studying host genetic diversity in a new microbial context, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and expanding my computational skillset.
Follow me on Twitter @Rachel_K_Meade!