Aishwarya Vijayan

 
Mentor: Dr. David Allred
College of Infectious Diseases and Pathology
 
"I've known I wanted to be a doctor since I was six when my pediatrician was able to (slightly) help me overcome my fears of needles through his patience and kindness. I knew then that I wanted to help other people by making them feel safe while also making them feel better. I realized that the rest of my life is going to be dedicated to this pursuit, so my only opportunity to explore other aspects of the fields I am interested was in college. I am fascinated by the ability of pathogens to mutate and change to hide from capture, so when I came to UF, the first thing I looked up was the infectious diseases department. After speaking with Dr. Allred, I was intrigued by his research and even more eager with the prospect of being a part of it."

Major

Chemical Engineering and Biology

Minor

N/A

Research Interests

  • Pathology
  • Microbiology

Academic Awards

  • National Merit Scholar
  • Florida Academic Scholar
  • National AP Scholar

Organizations

  • Science for Life
  • UF Speech and Debate Society
  • Objects in Motion- Juggling

Volunteer

  • Dance for Life- Arts in Medicine
  • Volunteer at Shands Psychology Department

Hobbies and Interests

  • Running
  • Reading Science Fiction
  • Eating Dark Chocolate
  • Learning New Things

Research Description

Synchronization of Babesia bovis
Babesia boivs is a malaria-like parasite which, upon infecting a host, is responsible for causing Babesiosis. Left to their own devices, babesial parasite populations contain a mix of developmental stages. However, this mixture of age groups is not conducive to the study of events specific to certain developmental stages. It is currently not known with certainty when, during development, the ves family encoding VESA1 is transcribed, nor when the protein is synthesized. Such information would be very useful in studies of protein trafficking, gene regulation, and other simple questions that remain outstanding due to the inability to synchronize development. I have spent the past year implementing various methods of synchronicity to obtain parasites that are roughly at the same developmental stage. I discovered a successful method utilizing antigen amplification. I plan to use an automated fluorescence cell counter to acquire more accurate data for a significantly larger sample of cells. This data can then be used to develop a drug or vaccine to target Babesia at a point in its cell cycle where it is most vulnerable. Methods for normalizing cell growth cycles have not been widely developed for an array of diseases, and this method provides a practical approach to being able to study synchronous parasite populations of known age that, in theory, should be applicable to most other parasites. In summary, there are three main deliverables that I plan to achieve with this project: 1. Determine the concentration of the VesA1 protein throughout the cell cycle 2. Continue improving the magnetic bead synchronization method to provide higher synchronicity and reproducibility