"I applied to the Scholars program in order to gain research experience that will allow me to grow as a future physician and scientist. I feel like being involved in research is essential to understanding the latest biomedical advancements and to prepare myself for a lifetime of learning. My goals for the academic year are to obtain groundbreaking results that will have a significant impact in the scientific community. Furthermore, I wish to have my work published in a scientific journal and present at the next UF Pediatrics Science Day."
My primary academic and research interests are in medicine, particularly pediatric cardiology, neonatology, and gastroenterology.
Academic and Other Awards
- University Scholars Program Scholarship (2011-2012)
- Association of Hispanic Alumni Colonel Glenn A. Farris Undergraduate Scholarship (2010-2011)
- Association of Hispanic Alumni Rafael and Fe Angulo Undergraduate Scholarship (2009, 2011)
- Anderson Scholar of High Distinction (2010)
- Dean's List (2009-2010)
- Presiden'ts List (2008-2009, 2011)
- Golden Key (2010)
- National Society of Collegiate Scholars (2009)
- Heal the World
- Children Beyond our Borders
- Marston Science Library
- Gamma Eta Sorority
Shands Arts in Medicine Girl's Place, Inc. Camp Boggy Creek Heal the World Medical Mission Trip to Peru.
Hobbies and Interests
- Volleyball, basketball, reading, watching movies, going to the beach, traveling, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.
Regulating Intestinal Inflammation with Microbial Cell Components
Endogenous bacteria colonize the human gastrointestinal tract early in life, contributing to the breakdown of nutrients, epithelial development, and innate immunity. By becoming tolerant to the presence of the endogenous microbes, intestinal epithelial cells can recognize harmful bacteria. Toll-like receptors (TLRs), a family of pattern recognition receptors, allow for this tolerance to occur by recognizing microbial-associated molecular patterns from different bacteria. TLR agonists initiate signal transduction cascades that may result in the transcription of inflammatory mediators. A disruption in the balance between the gut epithelia and resident microbes may lead to chronic inflammatory responses. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms of this tolerance is vital for the prevention and treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions such as necrotizing enterocolitis, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and colon cancer. In the Neonatal Gastroenterology and Biochemical Nutrition Laboratory, we wanted to see if pre-treating Caco-2 cells with TLR ligands LTA, LPS, and flagellin would significantly blunt the production of the inflammatory chemokine interleukin-8 (IL-8) after inducing IL-8 production with flagellin. Results showed that only pre-treating the cells with LPS and flagellin significantly lowered IL-8 production. Then, we studied the mechanisms that lead to such induced states of tolerance by performing a real-time PCR of the TLR signaling pathways. It was our goal to pinpoint the genes that are up- and down-regulated in the TLR signaling pathways as a result of this process of tolerance. As a University Scholar, I will work on the next steps of this study by investigating the effects of knocking down specific genes of the TLR signaling pathways. By understanding which specific genes have the strongest influence in the generation of tolerance, we can have specific targets within the pathways that can be acted upon to treat and prevent gastrointestinal and autoimmune diseases.