Erinn Alden

Graduate Reasearch Assistant

Hi guys (you can tell I'm from the North already can't you), I'm here to give you a little background on myself and my work in Dr. Kitto's Lab. I'm 23 and I lived in Washington State for the first 22 years of my life, before moving down to Austin in July 2002. I'm originally from Bothell, which is just 10 miles north of Seattle where I went to the University of Washington (go Huskies!) for my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry, with a minor in Chemistry. I started graduate school in the Fall of 2002, here at UT, and that's also when I started working in this lab.

The rotation project I started last year deals with examining the ability of the cytokine interleukin-12 (IL-12) to act as an efficient adjuvant. We will test the efficiency of both the IL-12 DNA, in the form of a plasmid, and protein to enhance the immune response and direct it towards the cell-mediated response when administered in conjunction with a vaccine in mice.

My actual PhD research will be a variant of the HIV research that is currently being done by other members of the lab. Instead of creating a vaccine to confer immunity to HIV, I'll be trying to develop a treatment for those who have already contracted HIV. It stems from the premise that if you kill all the cells in your body that are infected with HIV then you won't have HIV anymore. I will be specifically targeting HIV infected cells and inducing them to undergo apoptosis, or cell death. I haven't actually begun this work yet, I'm still doing preliminary background research to determine the methods I will use.

If you want to check out the current, beautiful Seattle weather just go to the UW web page and see the picturesque view of Red Square and Rainier Vista. .