“Hope lives and breathes research. She is also an ICRU (Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates) Ambassador, has served as the president of UIBIO, and has created and hosted multiple events to get students interested in or involved with research.” -Melinda Licht, program coordinator, Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates
Hometown: Crawfordsville, Indiana
Faculty mentor/advisor: Nedim Ince, MD, clinical associate professor, internal medicine-gastroenterology and hepatology, Carver College of Medicine
What is your degree program and expected graduate date? BS in biomedical sciences, graduating spring 2023
Please describe your research: Our lab studies graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after bone marrow transplantation, which occurs when immune cells from donor tissue attack the recipient. We investigate different suppressive immunological pathways that may lessen the effects of GVHD. For instance, helminths, or parasitic worms, can cause the immune system to switch from an inflammatory state to an immunosuppressive one.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? According to a paper that came out in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2022, GVHD affects 61% of people who receive a bone marrow transplant. GVHD causes severe inflammation that can result in death. Therefore, it is critical to discover ways to reduce the impact of GVHD on the body, as we study in our lab, to give bone marrow transplant patients the best chance at a good quality of life and long-term survival.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I started researching in my first lab with Dr. Fang Lin when I was only a first-year undergraduate student, on my second day of classes.
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Being involved in research has helped me develop the skills of teamwork, responsibility, leadership, commitment, and ambition, all of which have been critical not only to my academic success at Iowa, but my extracurricular, social, and professional success.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I plan to attend an MD-PhD program, with the eventual goal of becoming a physician-scientist, practicing transplant hepatology, and researching in the field of transplant immunology as I am now.
Banner location: Downtown—Clinton St., in front of Hot House Yoga