Alexa Roth

 Alexa Roth
Mentor: Dr. Scott Tibbetts
College of Medicine
 
"I became involved in research as an undergraduate because I am interested in a future career as a research scientist. I knew very early in life that I wanted to study science- both my parents hold degrees in chemistry and instilled a sense of scientific curiosity in me, but I discovered a passion for biology through my educational career. Undergraduate research not only allows me an outlet for my curiosity, but also is helping me to prepare for and understand my career choice. I hope to go on to graduate school to earn a PhD, and like many scientists, hope to conduct research that makes a positive impact on the world around me."
 

Major

Microbiology and Cell Science

Minor

Chemistry

Research Interests

  • Molecular Biology
  • Virology
  • Immunology

Academic Awards

  • Dean's List
  • Florida Bright Futures

Organizations

  • UF Equestrian Team
  • UF Dancin' Gators
  • UF Microbiology and Cell Science Student Organization

Volunteer

  • Pet Rescue by Judy

Hobbies and Interests

  • Horseback Riding
  • Dancing
  • Reading
  • Fishkeeping

Research Description

Defining the Cellular Site of Gammaherpesvirus Replication in the Bone Marrow
Gammaherpesviruses, such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), and murine herpesvirus 68 (MHV68) are oncogenic pathogens that are associated with the development of lymphomas and numerous other cancers. These viruses establish life-long latent infection that cannot be cleared by the immune system. Another key characteristic of these viruses is their species specificity, which makes the human viruses EBV and KSHV difficult to study. Thus, MHV68 is used as an important model to study the in vivo pathogenesis of gammaherpesviruses. A major goal of our research is to define the mechanisms used by these viruses to evade elimination by the host immune response and cause long-term infection. It is well known that mature B cells are a major long-term latency reservoir for gammaherpesviruses. Interestingly though, we have previously found that immature B cells, which are found within the bone marrow, are also latently infected, providing an important means for the virus to access the mature B cell pool through development of infected immature B cells. We have also determined that infection of this population of short-lived immature B cells remains stable throughout life, suggesting there is a cellular source of virus that recurrently infects these cells. Stromal cells, which provide structure for the bone marrow, are in contact with the immature B cells, and therefore may be a site of active infection, and infect newly generated immature B cells. Another possibility is that cells in the periphery that can produce virus, such as plasma cells, migrate to the bone marrow and provide a source of new virus for immature B cells. The aim of this project is to determine the cellular source of recurrent infection of immature B cells in the bone marrow, using sensitive virus detection techniques and genetically altered mice.