Steven Svoboda

Mentor: Dr. Susan Percival
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
"As a sophomore in high school I attended the 2011 Student Science Training Program at UF and conducted independent research in Dr. Vandenborne's laboratory studying Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy. Working with the researchers towards a therapeutic intervention for these young patients suffering from this debilitating disease opened my eyes to the essential role research plays in the advancement of not only medicine, but any field. This rewarding experience confirmed my desire to pursue a lifelong career in medicine, as well as, dedicate my time and talents to research. Due to my passion for nutrition and preventive health, I immersed myself in research involving nutrition's role in immune function."


Nutritional Sciences



Research Interests

  • Nutrition and Immunity
  • Preventative Health
  • Exercise

Academic Awards

  • Student Science Training Program 1st Place Research Poster 2011
  • Florida Alliance Scholars Award
  • CLAS Dean's List 2014
  • CALS Dean's List 2015
  • University Scholars Program 2015-2016


  • American Medical Student Association
  • Hispanic Student Association
  • Delta Iota Epsilon Academic Honor Society


  • Dream Team Pediatric Cardiology
  • Arts in Medicine
  • Habitat for Humanity

Hobbies and Interests

  • Nutrition
  • Sustainable Gardening
  • Spanish Classical Guitar
  • Fishing

Research Description

Glutathione's Role in Immune Function
Glutathione or GSH is a tripeptide comprised of the amino acids glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine that the human body produces intracellularly. It is known to have a significant role in DNA and protein synthesis, amino acid transport, and metabolism of numerous compounds. GSH serves as the major antioxidant present in all cells of the body which reverses oxidative damage caused by endogenous free radicals. Because various lymphocytic functions are extremely sensitive to the presence of reactive oxygen species, even a slight reduction in normal GSH concentration can impair lymphocyte functioning. Evidence suggests that GSH can increase the functional capability of lymphocytes such as natural killer cells, cytotoxic T cells, and Helper T cells, as well as, offer protection against microbial, viral, and parasitic infections. Thus, glutathione may have a significant role in modulating the immune system. In addition, GSH levels are typically below optimal levels in sick individuals, those with significant inflammation, and especially older adults whose demand for GSH’s antioxidant activity is increased. Consistent with these statements, it has been well established that T cell-mediated immune response is diminished in aged individuals. Therefore, the immune functioning of individuals with suboptimal GSH levels, especially older adults, may be enhanced through GSH supplementation. An in vitro lymphoblast cell culture model will be used to study the effects of glutathione on immune function. A human peripheral blood T lymphocyte cell line, Loucy, will be used for this project. The experimental culture will be supplemented with glutathione in increasing concentrations and compared with a control culture lacking supplementation. Cell proliferation and lymphoblast activation will be measured at regular intervals. Proliferation will be measured using the vital dye Trypan Blue (which distinguished live and dead cells) and counting by hemacytometer. Lymphoblast activation will be measured by the presence of specific cell surface receptors indicating activation. These cell surface receptors can be quantified by flow cytometry using fluorescent antibodies specific for these receptors. The antibodies will bind receptors present on the cell surface and their fluorescence quantified by the flow cytometer, thus, antibody fluorescence will correspond with cell surface marker presence which will indicate the level of lymphoblast activation. Given that GSH is integral for lymphoblast activation and subsequent T-cell mediated immune response, supplementing Loucy cells with glutathione should increase lymphoblast activation, which will be indicated by greater cell proliferation and surface receptor activation. This outcome should support the hypothesis that GSH supplementation in individuals lacking optimal GSH, will improve immune system functioning.