Emily graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry Co-op at McMaster University in 2019. Following taking courses in her undergraduate career in immunology and virology, she became interested in the intricacies behind the host-pathogen interactions and how they can drive disease. Emily's Master’s project will involve looking at the relationship of type I interferon on vaginal immunopathology to herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2).
Interferons are signaling proteins that act as one of our first responses to a viral infection. They function as a means of communication between our cells to establish an “antiviral” state while also activating various immune cells. It has increasingly shown that interferons may function in a more immunoregulatory function through not only controlling viral replication, but also controlling and limiting the immune response to prevent excessive tissue damage. The potential for interferon signaling as a negative regulator of the immune response highlights a therapeutic potential for autoimmune diseases and cancer, where type I interferon has already been shown to limit immune responses to cancer cells. Using HSV-2 intravaginal infections as a model, Emily will be attempting to further understand the mechanisms behind how type I interferons functions in an immunoregulatory manner.